In light of Black History Month, ZU TV producer Channing Reid, sat down with Tajianna Okechukwu, president of the Black Student Association (BSA) on campus and a senior acting and film major. Okechukwu was interviewed to get her take on how Black History Month and diversity are portrayed at Azusa Pacific.
BSA is a student-led organization designed as a place of community and understanding for the Black students on campus. It also serves to educate non-Black students on history, politics and society from a Black perspective, ultimately attempting to bring people of all races together in order to cultivate diversity.
“BSA serves to foster community between Black students on APU’s campus. It’s a place for Black students to come and feel a sense of belonging [on campus],” Okechukwu said. “But it’s also a place for non-Black students to come, learn and be educated and surrounded by different perspectives through the Black lens.”
BSA is one of the largest ethnic clubs on campus, averaging around 40 people per weekly meeting. Okechukwu shared how she thinks Black History Month is represented at APU.
“Black History Month at APU is a tricky thing because I feel as though, on a larger scale, it may not be as widely recognized by the university. But, on the other hand, within the individual departments … we definitely have workshops and programming and events that happen within Black History Month,” Okechukwu said. “I feel like those are some efforts to try to be more culturally aware on APU’s part, but I will say that there is a lot more work to do to be able to recognize Black History Month, whether that’s in the classroom or specifically in chapel.”
A number of groups within APU are hosting events in celebration of Black History Month and diversity. The Office of Chapel Programs is beginning its annual Diversity Series from Feb. 11-15. During this week, each morning chapel message will be delivered by a person of color offering a different perspective to which the student body may not be accustomed to.
Additionally, BSA Expressions will take place on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. to offer a platform for members of the Black community on campus to showcase any sort of art or entertainment. This year’s theme is “Can’t Be Boxed,” which demonstrates that Black people are significantly more than any box society may place them in.
“Expressions is just a night of performances. We get to eat food together, break bread and just enjoy culture and community,” Okechukwu said.
Okechukwu also talked about being Black and Christian in today’s political and social climate.
“From my personal faith journey and my identity, I know that my blackness was not by accident, and God has intentionally created us how we are for a reason. I very much like to delight in the fact that I am Black,” Okechukwu said. “You hear about stories of diversity in the Bible all the time, and I think sometimes in Christianity we forget that. Jesus was an advocate for so many marginalized groups. We often lose sight of that and make it more of a political discussion rather than a faith-based discussion. I definitely think being Black and Christian is something that you should take pride in, and it’s not something to be ashamed of at all.”
For a closer look at what BSA does and stands for, join the club on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. in Wynn 2, or follow them on Instagram @iamapubsa for information on weekly events and programs.