Black excellence a key talking point, aimed to empower women of color
On Monday, Oct. 16 in CSU 253/4/5, the Black Girl Magic event took place. This is the event’s second year and is a collaboration between the Women’s Center and African American Affairs in the Multicultural Center.
Renee Mitchell-Matsuyama, assistant director of the Women’s Center, said that the goal of the event was to “have a space and an event that is in celebration of the awesome things that black women do, both students and faculty as well as community members.”
The event consisted of a dinner, keynote speaker Rosalind Sullivan, a panel discussion, and an award ceremony.
Sullivan is a lawyer and activist who created the organization HerStory, which is meant to highlight the stories of black women.
The panel discussion consisted of staff and faculty at MNSU and a woman from the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). The staff included Tracy Stokes Hernandez, an advisor in the College of Science and Engineering, Dr. Maria Baxter, former director of Diversity Outreach, and Tiffnie Jackson, the director of Racial Justice at the YWCA.
Matsuyama believes that it is important for there to be events like Black Girl Magic.
“It’s important to have spaces that can make students feel affirmed and uplifted,” she said. “I think it’s a needed type of event for black women students and people to see role models of women that are doing awesome things in our community and on campus. And a space where we can celebrate black women students’ accomplishments. That’s why we have the award ceremony, so we give a certificate of leadership [and] excellence to students [who] have been nominated.”
Latisha Townsend, president of the organization Black Motivated Women (BMW), was an emcee at the event, along with the organization’s vice president, Caelen Terrell.
“As an emcee, we were tasked with introducing ourselves, explaining what black excellence means to us as well as black girl magic,” Townsend said. “We had to introduce our keynote speaker, also just keeping the energy in the room high.”
Townsend explained what is meant by black excellence.
“I know that, as a black person, there [are] so many factors that we have against us—environmental factors, political factors, social factors,” she said. “So, for me, black excellence is really just pushing through all of those things that keep coming at us as obstacles and still getting to the point where we know we want to be, but at the same time bringing other people up with us.”
For those interested in discussions similar to those that took place at the Black Girl Magic dinner, BMW has meetings bi-weekly at 6 p.m. Thursdays, in CSU 253/4/5.
Townsend encourages people of all race to attend these meetings and events such as Black Girl Magic.
“Anyone of any race can come to this,” she said. “I think it’s actually important for people of all cultures to come in and see what we’re talking about, because it’s almost like a lesson in cultural competency. I think it’s important to know how we feel, why we feel this way, what you can do to help us, [and] what we’re willing to do to help you understand us.”