BSA Holds Open Mic Night to Show the Value of Black Arts

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The University of Indianapolis heard poetry, song and more from students in the African American community in Krannert Memorial Library. The event, held Feb. 29 from 7-9 p.m., according to UIndy Events, was officially called “Black History Month – KML Open Mic Series: Co-hosted by the Black Student Association.” The night allowed for performers to have a three-minute time slot to perform, according to UIndy Events.

Black Student Association Vice President and sophomore psychology major DesMonaé Thomas said in the past BSA held open mic nights, but as board members changed over time, the nights came to a halt. Thomas said she sees this as an opportunity to remind UIndy that BSA is still active in the community and wants to make more students aware of its presence.

“When we had found out that BSA used to host open mic nights and we saw that the KML was hosting an open mic night, we thought it’d be a great opportunity to collaborate with them and everyone on the board,” Thomas said. “This is our first year holding these positions, so right now we want to build back that tradition of open mic nights consistently. So right now, we’re going to use this opportunity as a starting point in how to navigate it from here.”

BSA Secretary and sophomore elementary education major Rava’Jonnae Turner said she was in charge of increasing awareness of the Open Mic Night. The event is a way to amplify Black voices within a primarily white institution, such as UIndy, according to Turner.

“A lot of people are shy to step up to show what they have in the store,” Turner said. “So I feel like with the Open Mic … that it would give other black people time to [say] ‘Let me just show what I have. Let me just show everybody what I’ve been hiding,’ and I just feel like that’s a great thing to do, especially at a PWI school.”

Turner said setting up an event such as Open Mic Night takes commitment and communication. Communicating with an external organization can be difficult, but it pays off in the end with a successful event, she said.

“I’ve learned that it takes patience, it takes commitment,” Turner said. “Also, it takes communication. You have to communicate with either organization that you’re partnering with because if you don’t have that communication, words can get crossed, dates can get crossed, times can get crossed and it takes patience.”

BSA Head of Community Outreach and sophomore communication major Addison Mosley said that she thinks of this as a way to reintroduce BSA into the UIndy community.

“BSA hasn’t had a lot of events, and we also haven’t been able to do stuff just because of funding and time and we also had to rebuild BSA,” Mosley said. “We wanted to do something that wasn’t too much, that wasn’t overwhelming, but also to show our presence … So it was a good event to just partner with to be like, ‘Hey, this is BSA’s introduction’ and still have that community of people who go to the open mics.”

Photo by Allison Cook Junior elementary education major Jayonna Dean reads an original poem at the Feb. 29 KML Open Mic Night co-hosted by the Black Student Association. The event aimed to create a feeling of community and inspire others to find their creative voice.

Thomas said she was also in charge of budgeting and helped to schedule the event. For the event. However, Thomas said she worked on a poem where she touches on personal aspects within her life.

“It [her poem] is pretty much about how dreams can affect the choices you make,” Thomas said. “You can sit in your room and dream a lot, dream about a big fancy house, dream about the fanciest car, but it’s all about the choices you make and how you reach those dreams. And I have made a few choices in my life that affected the dreams that I wanted. So I pretty much just wanted to put that in words and express myself and get some relief and comfort.”

Mosley, who is the event’s master of ceremonies, said she feels inspired to express herself when seeing performers on stage. Mosley said she hopes the event will make her more comfortable presenting and wants the event to inspire others to find their voice.

“I just want to get very, very comfortable with it, especially since I’m a communication major, and I want to be on TV and things like that,” Mosley said. “… I think for UIndy, I want everybody to have a good time. I want everybody to feel like they’re open and welcomed into this really safe community. I will say UIndy has a community and it makes you feel at home when you’re here, so I want everybody to feel like they’re at home and they’re comfortable and they’re protected in that space.”

Turner said the event conveys BSA’s values as an organization. It shows African American students coming together and showing their presence within the community, according to Turner.

“It conveys [Black Students] coming together and to be a part of something that’s with everybody,” Turner said. “It’s not just Black people, BSA or trying to get other people to come and not just have it as a Black organization on a PWI school. We’re trying to get everybody together and with this event, that’s what we’re trying to convey.”

According to Thomas, following the success of the Open Mic Night, social events such as this are going to happen in the future. This event shows that BSA is here for students as a resource and as a way to find community, Thomas said.

“I’m hoping this event can let everyone know that we are still here, we are new, we’re developing, but we would still like your support and your encouragement to help us build ourselves back up because BSA used to bring a lot of people together,” Thomas said. “We just want to bring that back to the Black community on campus at this PWI. So I’m hoping it lets people know that we are trying, we do see you, we do hear you, and we are doing this for you.” Students who are interested in joining BSA can message the account @uindy_bsa on Instagram for more information. Students can also email any members to join, according to Mosley.

Photo by Allison Cook Junior elementary education major Jayonna Dean raises her hand to participate in a game hosted by the Black Student Association during the KML Open Mic Night series. The event aimed to create a feeling of community and inspire others to find their voice.

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