The University of Indianapolis Black Student Association held a week of events dedicated to showcasing the love and appreciation one should feel for oneself as part of its Black History Month celebration Feb. 20-24.
Junior biology major and BSA President Melina Hale said that the week of events was designed to create a community of acceptance for African-Americans on campus.
“My Black is Beautiful Week was created to encourage acceptance, self-love, and confidence for our African-American cohorts,” Hale said. “Oftentimes, media portrays darker skinned people as ugly, ghetto, bad, unsuccessful, incapable. This week was created to reverse these mindsets and emphasize that we are all beautiful.”
The week of events was not just for African-Americans, but also for anyone who wanted to participate and was all-inclusive through the tabling selling “My ___ is Beautiful” T-shirts Hales said. Students could fill in the blank with whatever word they chose to describe themselves as beautiful.
BSA’s first event offered free haircuts for men on campus. The purpose of this event was to encourage self-care and confidence. This event featured three barbers, according to junior creative writing major and BSA Secretary Shannon Gaskin.
“When I made the events, I realized that [the] majority were for girls,” Gaskin said. “So I asked the guys what was the one thing that they wanted, or what did they want out of the week, and what they literally said was ‘haircuts.’ So they got their haircuts for free.”
BSA held a discussion on Feb. 21 in UIndy Hall C. The name of the event was titled, “My Mind is Beautiful.” Speaker Lawrence Haynes held a discussion about mental health and depression in the black community. He gave tips on how individuals can go about fighting the stigma of mental illness and depression and encourage one another.
The mental health event came from personal experiences with depression and dealing with it in college, Gaskin said.
“The event came from something personal. I took [my] first semester [of my] sophomore year off because I was struggling with depression after my mom died [during] my senior year of high school. I thought I was over it, but I wasn’t,” she said. “When I [saw] some of the students in the group dealing with stress, but they didn’t say anything about it, I was like, ‘This is not something that just goes for me. It goes for everybody….’ I figured if I could get somebody to come out and talk about it, maybe they would be more willing to take a moment and de-stress or go talk to someone.”
BSA held its annual Open Mic Night event on Feb. 22. This event allowed students to showcase their talents and compete to win a prize. BSA had a makeup tutorials event on Feb. 23 to demonstrate to women how to find shades and tones of makeup that complement their skin tones and to apply the makeup.
BSA ended the week on Feb. 24 with a photoshoot showcasing everyone who purchased T-shirts or was wearing something he or she thought was beautiful on himself or herself.
“BSA hoped that this week would be a great way to close out Black History Month and would encourage students to have pride and appreciation in our people, our history and our future,” Hale said. “We feel overall that our Black History Month events had a nice turnout, and we were thankful to all that attended an event. It was amazing how the student body came together and supported each other and our representations of what Black history means to us.”
Anyone interested in additional information can follow BSA on social media @uindybsa to see what events the organization has coming up or email firstname.lastname@example.org.