Soul Food Social encourages unity

On Sept. 24, Billings Library was filled with people awaiting performances and delicious food.bsu-soul-food-lady

On homecoming weekend each year, the Black Student Union brings students, parents and alumni together for one night of food, culture and community.

The event draws its theme from the 1997 film “Soul Food” starring Vanessa Williams, according to UVM’s Soul Food Social website.

This year, conversation was a cornerstone of the night. But when BSU president Ivonne Headley asked the room for a moment of silence in honor of recent black lives lost throughout this year in acts of violence, all that could be heard in Billings was a united silence.

“Every time we eat soul food, we are engaging in an act of remembrance,” Headley said to the group.

“Therefore, tonight I felt it was only fitting that we take few moments to remember the lives of our fellow brothers that have been lost due to recent acts of police brutality towards black men and women in this country,” she said.

The moment of silence lingered for over a minute, and then Tynesha McCullers, a graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program, sang what Headley called the unofficial national black anthem.

McCullers’ powerful vocals brought the attendants into a celebratory community while they listened to stories, both from voices on the stage or next to them at the table.  

Among presentations and performances of the evening were Lonkagnaka Losambe, UVM professor of English and interim chair of romance languages and linguistics department, UVM’s Jazz Ensemble and the award-winning slam poetry group Muslim Girls Making Change.

Junior Sonya Gluck, BSU treasurer, spoke about what it meant to be a white woman in America.

She said racism was an institution that America was founded on and one she was a part of, along with every other American, because of the white privilege she inherited at birth.

“I’m just as racist as the rest of them,” she boldly said.

However, Gluck also described what she has done in her years in her attempt to stand up and fight racial inequality.

She urged others to unite and make a difference.

“If you are not actively fighting against [racism], you are a part of it,” she said.

Folks of all ages gathered to celebrate and take part in the event as well.

First-year Isabelle Burkman said she attended the event to get involved with and support black groups on campus.

“I just want to get more involved in Black Lives Matter. I talk a lot about being an intersectional feminist and supporting minorities, but I don’t do a lot and I feel like this is my start to being involved,” Burkman said.

This year, the event was in conjunction with the opening of the National Museum of African American History in Washington, DC, Headley said.