APU’s Black Student Association celebrates and shares their culture with their annual Expressions Night

On Friday, Feb. 15, the annual event, Expressions: Can’t be Boxed, hosted by Azusa Pacific’s Black Student Association, celebrated black culture through a night of dance, art, music, love and community.

BSA’s event hosted hundreds of APU students with food and entertainment from 7 p.m. to midnight in the UTCC on east campus. The flyers explained the meaning of the theme, “This year’s theme sums up the idea that black people are more than what we have been put in a box to be.”

UTCC was filled with people “dressed to impress” as the flyer promoted. With free food and entertainment, there were nearly a hundred more people in the crowd than expected.

Joshua Cantong, sociology major and speaker at the event, shared his thoughts.

“I was happy to see that so many people came, people not even in the black community came. This is really important,” Cantong said. “One thing about BSA is that we are a community that [hopes] to be inclusive.”

Expressions: Can’t Be Boxed created a space of including others and making people, like Jacquelyn Lenoir, cinematic arts major, feel at home.

“My favorite part of BSA is the community aspect. I love everyone … It really feels like a family to me …  This is the most community I have ever felt at APU,” Lenoir said.

This event created a home for members like her and students all across campus, their voices finally being heard.

Tajiana Okechukwu, president of BSA and a senior majoring in  cinematic arts and theatre acts, said she thought the night was “definitely a success.”

The BSA club is open to any race. This was highlighted through the many performances from people of all ethnicities.

The show began with a video directed by Saveilee Ndama and cinematography by Gabe Hostetler entitled, “My Black Isn’t for You.”  Ndama introduced the video at the beginning.  

“We as black people are not beautiful in spite of our blackness, but we are beautiful because of it. That was the whole inspiration behind it,” she said.

The video set the tone of the event, a celebration of black culture through various forms of art.

Attendees often found themselves on their feet and occasionally lifting up the performers with kind words of encouragement when the crowd’s vast numbers seemed to cause stage fright. The energy in the room was electric.

One of the most notable performances was Ryan Ricketts spoken word poetry. In his poem “Love,” he says, “There is no need to fret, we are all on the same page when we strum. If you are apart of the problem, I beg you, please don’t play dumb. You’re on the losing side if you aren’t on the side of love.”

The crowd erupted with cheers as he pointed to the answer of so many of the problems we face.

The event included more than poetry, but dances and singing as well. Each and every performance was met with immense applause.

Malachi Smith, marketing major and host of the event, described what it was like to host the event.

“Amazing. It was great energy. A wonderful crowd. Really positive environment. I thrive off of an engaging crowd … . Felt real good to be black today!” said Smith.

The night was far from over when the final performance occurred. After they gave closing remarks, 90s hit music played and the crowd danced as if they had been holding it back all night. Many of the people jumped on to the stage and danced the night away into the early morning.

Okechukwu said it best, “So much hard work put into this show [made] it the greatness that it was.”