The last celebration for this year’s Black History Month was on Thursday Feb. 27.Sophomores Marcela Riddick ‘16, Kendra Casey ‘16 and Shelby Mumford ‘16 run the Black Student Union and are advised by faculty members Heather Keddie, Lane Fischman, Amelia Mathis and Andrea Locke. Together, they explore and share the importance of African American culture, culminating in the month-long celebration of Black History Month.
The student leaders were eager to share their experiences. On Fridays, they implemented traditional music in the courtyard and a delicious cultural feast at the end of the month.
Although students felt the food was an important aspect of African American culture, some speculated about the BSU’s decision to bring food to the Archer community. The fine line of stereotyping and celebrating culture needed to be defined.
Carondelet High School, an all-girls Catholic school in northern California, had a similar dilemma. When they planned to celebrate Black History Month with fried chicken, cornbread, and watermelon, the community was outraged.
The story spread all the way to New York Daily News. The article explains how these foods have “been used to caricature African Americans—in the same way that minstrels once used blackface.” Essentially, journalist Carol Kuruvilla writes, “the well-intentioned students stumbled into a complicated history.”
In order to avoid this dilemma but not deprive Archer of the experience, the BSU searched for other methods to celebrate their culture. Coach Amelia Mathis suggested making the celebration like a typical Sunday supper in the south, which is where most traditional African American food comes from.
According to one anonymous source, “I felt connected to my roots and I really enjoyed [the] food and sense of family. I thought they did a great job.”