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Annual Black Extravaganza opens with keynote address, student performances

Pictured are members of the Nigerian Students Association performing at the annual Black Extravaganza. The event, which was hosted by the Afrikan Diaspora Living Learning Community, featured poetry, rap, dance and singing. (Brianna Carlson/Daily Bruin)

By Dylan Winward

March 1, 2024 12:18 a.m.

Students sang and danced at the Afrikan Diaspora Living Learning Community’s annual Black Extravaganza on Wednesday.

The event, which took place in the Covel Commons Grand Horizon room, featured spoken word poetry, rap, singing and dancing, according to the event’s website. The extravaganza opened with a recorded keynote address by Tananarive Due, a continuing lecturer in the Department of African American Studies, about the event’s theme, Afrofuturism.

The event aimed to showcase the talent of the Black community and celebrate Black History Month, said Ariana Muniz-Austin, a community development intern for the LLC and a first-year physiological science student.

“It’s really important to allow individuals to have a safe haven where they can express their art in a way that is going to be appreciated and acknowledged for its beauty and also to recognize the talent that’s right in front of us that sometimes we don’t get to appreciate,” Muniz-Austin said.

The event’s theme was inspired by an organizer taking a class with Due and wanting to give students a chance to reflect on its relevance to their personal lives, Muniz-Austin said. Afrofuturism is the speculative art of the Afrikan diaspora, Due said in the keynote address.

(Brianna Carlson/Daily Bruin)
Pictured are members of the East African Student Association dance team. (Brianna Carlson/Daily Bruin)

Muniz-Austin added that the planning of the event by resident assistants and members of the LLC community took a couple of months.

[Related: Afrikan Diaspora LLC provides community, resources for Black students]

Helen Ayele, a co-captain of the East African Student Association’s dance team, said after attending the event as an audience member two years ago, she wanted to be on stage as part of the show. The talent show was important to her because it gave a spotlight to Black talent, which otherwise would not receive as much attention, she said.

“People here are just regular students like you and I, who possess a talent and just need an outlet to be able to showcase it,” she said.

The event featured performances from the dance teams of the Nigerian Students Association and the EASA.

Yunus Abdurahman, a first-year electrical engineering student, said he is Persian and Ethiopian and joined EASA’s dance team to learn more about his Ethiopian side. He added that joining the team was especially important to him since he doesn’t know his Ethiopian parent.

Abdurahman said he felt the event was also important to combat negative stereotypes of African culture and instead share its joy with people from diverse backgrounds.

Ayele, a fourth-year sociology student, said this year is the first time EASA has performed at the Black Extravaganza. She added that EASA’s participation is an important show of pan-African unity.

“Not everybody has the privilege of being able to trace their ancestral identity, and so to be able to share that with them – it brings that kind of unity back to our people,” she said.

(Brianna Carlson/Daily Bruin)
Pictured are members of the Bruinettes, UCLA's danceline team. (Brianna Carlson/Daily Bruin)

The event also featured performances from Alpha Phi Alpha, the Melanin Melodies, the Bruinettes danceline team, as well as a spoken word poem addressed to Martin Luther King Jr. that was performed by Naomi Hammonds, the president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council.

[Related: Bruinettes honor HBCU culture, bring danceline to the Rose Bowl]

Taylor Gomez-Douglas, a fourth-year education and political science student, said attending UCLA has helped him explore the definition of Blackness. He added that he appreciates how the event focused on the creativity and inspiration of his community rather than tragedy and trauma.

Victor Chinedu, the president of NSA and a fourth-year neuroscience student, said he felt the event overall was important to build community. He added that the association’s dance team was an important part of the club’s attempts to convey emotion and culture.

“They’re (Events like this are) really important because they just bring together community,” he said. “It’s a chance for everyone to come together and share our talents or just celebrate being Black, especially in Black History Month.”

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Dylan Winward | Features and student life editor
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year statistics and english literature student.
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year statistics and english literature student.
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