Across the nation, February is recognized as Black History Month, with scores of celebrations scheduled to take place throughout the country. On campus, the University of Utah’s Black Cultural Center is observing the 23rd annual commemoration of the month set aside to highlight the culture and contributions of African Americans over the history of the United States.
This year’s theme is “Black Untitled.” For the uninitiated, this refers to the way individuals who identify as Black see themselves as opposed to how others may see them.
“Essentially, it means that your blackness is not defined by society or those that are around you but you get to define your own blackness,” explained Meligha Garfield, director of U’s Black Cultural Center (BCC). “It’s untitled meaning there’s a journey that still awaits and you are defining who you are in your blackness.”
In previous years Garfield said the BCC often focused on the notion that being Black is not monolithic as a way to dismiss the idea that Black people all have the same thoughts and beliefs. The new theme is specifically meant to dispel those erroneous misconceptions.
“We really want to hone in for our students, faculty and staff that you can really define your blackness any way that you deem fit,” he said. “If I was describing African Americans to a non-Black person, I would encourage folks to not pigeonhole or stick with stereotypes but to branch out really explore what is Blackness as a global phenomenon.”
He suggests looking at what Blackness represents across the globe and go deeper than what may be depicted on television or in news headlines. Find out more and become more informed, he said.
One of the things Garfield wants people to gain from attending any of the 16 events spread throughout the month is to understand that Blackness also exists here in Utah.
“I want folks both on campus and also off campus to know that we can do a number of different things that brings the community together,” he said. “The other goal just goes back to our mission. We have (the principle of ) IntersectX12, where we have events that highlight Black history every day.”
“We have a number of things that are going on throughout the year, but during this month we just have a bigger platform to really showcase how we define Blackness here in the state of Utah,” Garfield said.
For a detailed listing of the BCC’s full calendar of Black History Month events, click this link.