The Black Student Assembly introduced the core concepts it will use in this year’s programming, including intersectionality and empowering black excellence, at its first meeting Monday night.
The Assistant Director of the BSA, Brianna Thorpe, spoke of intersectionality as the acknowledgement of different identities that contribute to the black experience.
“It’s really important that we — the BSA —are accommodating all of the different communities on campus,” Thorpe said.
Thorpe is planning an event in October to celebrate the life of Celia Cruz, a Cuban singer and Afro-Latina icon. She hopes this event will bring together black individuals of different backgrounds.
“We have many different cultures that make up ‘black.’ ‘Black’ is the classification, but there are people who are Nigerian, people who are Caribbean, people who are Afro-Latino. We don’t discriminate,” Thorpe said.
According to Thorpe, the BSA aims to increase its involvement with under-represented groups.
“One of the things we’re also trying to do is making sure we’re including the LGBT community, because queer people of color are often ostracized,” Thorpe said.
Some students who attended the meeting were interested in learning about different groups. Silvia Morales, a junior studying psychology and a member of a Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority, is one such student.
“My sorority is based upon diversity. We take pride in having cultural awareness so we strive to learn about other communities, like the black community,” Morales said.
Aside from being inclusive, the BSA also aims to empower. The Executive Director of the BSA, Ahlia Bethea, spoke about how the organization should support black individuals by celebrating not only scholastic achievements, but achievements in all fields. To do this, the BSA recently established a new position on its executive board, the “Creative Experience” position, to recognize black artists within the USC and Los Angeles community.
“We want different talented individuals to know that they are being supported. Whether it’s going out to people’s plays or going to sports games and supporting the athletes, we want to make sure we’re highlighting the ways we’re thriving,” Bethea said.
In response to the incidents of violence against black individuals that occurred over the summer — including the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — the BSA’s co-unity chairs, M.C. Omete Anassi and Preston Fregia showed a clip from Kendrick Lamar’s music video for the song “Alright.”
“When we were thinking of how to set the tone [for the meeting] and how we’re going to reach everyone in this room. We decided to use this song ‘we gon’ be alright’ because we are going to be alright,” Fregia said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, no matter what your background is. We’re going to love you, and BSA is going to be a home for you.”
For Bethea, making the BSA a “safe” and “restorative” space is her biggest priority.
“A lot of the things that happened over the summer were extremely traumatic and targeting and triggering to our community,” Bethea said. “We want to make sure that we’re providing a space for people to heal. We really want the Black Student Assembly to be a restorative space for people to come and know that there are other individuals that look like them and feel the same things. We want people to know they have a support system in us.”