Black History Month opens dialogue on reclaiming resiliency

ACSA and QBAS talk mental wellness in the Black community

Sewa Adegorite and Bunisha Samuels.
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The annual Black History Month (BHM) opening ceremony was hosted in the Renaissance Event Venue on Feb. 2 by the African & Caribbean Students’ Association (ACSA) and Queen’s Black Academic Society (QBAS).

According to ACSA President Bunisha Samuels, BHM’s theme this year is ‘From Past to Present.’

“One aspect of ‘Past to Present’ is the whole idea of intergenerational trauma and success and how it connects back to our identity and how we form our community,” Samuels said in an interview with The Journal.

Samuels also said, with the current campus climate, it’s evident that Queen’s keeps seeing the same issues surrounding race. “I think one of the big things that people keep forgetting is when we have these conversations, it’s not a one-time incident,” she said.

She emphasized that aside from the present, Black History Month is also about resiliency and pushing forward the level of success the Black community already has. “I think it’s super important for Black History Month to highlight both our successes and our achievements,” Samuels said. “But that’s not encompassed to just this month, but also being for the full year.”

This year, ACSA is centring on the need for dialogue about the changes that should happen on campus. According to Samuels, one of the major topics ACSA is also tackling this month is mental health and wellness within Black communities.

“I want to really highlight the fact that it’s important for not only us as a community to have these conversations as individuals who identify as being radicalized minorities on campus,” she said. “I think that one of the most important things for me is that we continue to have these conversations outside of just the month.”

In an interview with The Journal, QBAS President Sewa Adegorite said Black History Month is all about reclaiming resilience as Black students. With an annual conference coming up on March. 7, QBAS aims to discuss mental wellness in the Black community by addressing the barriers that are present on campus

“I think that Black History Month incorporates [mental health] because we celebrate Black History Month so that we can commemorate historical figures that have done great things in the past,” Adegorite said. “It gives Black students an opportunity to learn history that’s often left out of history books and the classrooms.”

The problem with racism is that it still exists in our society today, Adegorite said. She said the issue with Canada is a lot of people believe it’s not there, but people still face it in subtle forms.

“Just like the recent Coronavirus party, things like that are still happening on campus,” she said. “You’d think we learn from the last [racist party], but we haven’t. It’s time that we get uncomfortable.”

On Wednesday, QBAS hosted a trivia night for people to learn facts about Black history. QBAS also plans to host a mixer in collaboration with Freedom for Violence.

“I think Black History Month is for everyone. While we are at the centre of it, the month means a lot to different people because in this work that we do, we need allies,” Aldegorite said. “It’s important to the progress we see in society.”

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