The third annual True Colors event took place on Monday, Feb. 23 to celebrate Black History Month.
The event, planned by students Hiba Hashim, Jonathan Rodriguez, Matthew Hannigan, Antonio Xu Liu, Lismeldy Rosario and Rachit Bhatt, took place in Tabler Center’s Blackbox Theater. The night was filled with performances, food and a discussion panel.
“Hiba [Hashim] and I have been doing this for three years and every year we have a pretty good turnout but in prior years it was an ACH for credit event, so we felt like a lot of first year students came were maybe too shy to express their feelings or sentiments,” senior engineering science major Xu Liu said. “But this year anyone who came really came to join in the conversation and learn about it.”
This event was created by Hashim and Xu Liu as a way to bring more attention to Black History Month to Tabler Quad and the Stony Brook University community.
“It kind of a gave a platform for people in the audience to feel comfortable to be able to talk,” senior psychology major Hashim said of the panel. “Once they hear these people drop knowledge they are kind of like ‘Oh, I never thought about it that way’ and kind of jump starts their mind to voice their opinion.”
Xu Liu was excited for the panel because it was filled with people who do not just have an opinion but who had a background in the topics and are passionate about the program.
“It touched on points that we were bringing up when we were making the discussion questions,” senior chemistry major Matthew Hannigan said. “It went in directions none of us anticipated and it was very three-dimensional.”
The discussion panel was made up of student leaders, faculty and administrators, including Assistant Director of Campus Recreation for Student Employment & Marketing, Durron Newman, and Danielle Larogue, a graduate student in Africana Studies program. Dwayne Moore and Randy Ferguson represented the undergraduates. Jarvis Watson, assistant Dean of Multicultural Affairs and well as Rayna Simon, Executive to Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education and Special Events Coordinator, both participated in the panel.
Dean of Students Timothy Ecklund was also in attendance.
“I saw students taking risks about their ideas,” Ecklund said. “It helps me to remember our community pledge and how important that is in regards to civility and respect for each other.”
The theme of this year’s True Colors event was cultural appropriation, a topic which performer Zoe Sumner took advantage of.
“I like to write pieces that are relevant to what we’re talking about. It was easier for me to write about because it’s something I’m aware of,” junior English major Sumner said of her poem. “I like the diversity of the performances and the panel. They did a really good job to make sure everyone was represented here tonight.”
Other performances included musical acts and skits.
“Of course I love performances because I am a performer myself, but I don’t want it to be an open mic,” Hashim said. “I want them to learn about what black culture is and I want them to learn about the struggle that black people have to go through everyday and performances only do that to a certain extent because we have a lot of open mics, especially in Tabler. [Open mics] aren’t something we are lacking here. What we are lacking is the knowledge.”