TOO BLACK will be performing at Melanin Monologues, in addition to Butler students. Photo courtesy of tooblack.net
MADDY KLINE | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
February is Black History Month-a month dedicated to recognizing the crucial role of African Americans in United States’ history, as well as celebrating the past and current achievements by black Americans.
Butler’s Black Student Union puts together various events during the course of the academic year, a number of which with the purpose of celebrating Black History Month. Melanin Monologues, an event that allows students and faculty to perform their talents for the Butler community, is just one of the many highlights hosted by BSU.
Khayleia Foy, president of BSU, became familiar with Melanin Monologues during her first year at Butler, when the event was first created.
“At the time, I was the historian and parliamentarian of the organization,” Foy said. “Since then I have been involved in the planning and organizing of the event. In the past I have also had the chance of reading an excerpt at the event.”
Foy explains that Melanin Monologues is a spin off of Vagina Monologues, another program held nationwide with the content directed more toward the empowerment and understanding of women and feminism.
“Each event has similar purposes but with different topics of choice,” Foy said. “Melanin Monologues, for the past three years, has been a very successful event in which we are given the opportunity to celebrate and showcase our cultures, experiences, personal stories and talents to the community of Butler.”
Melanin Monologues are particularly interesting for the majority of campus because it serves as a channel for students to be demonstrate their specific art forms, while simultaneously allowing said students to detail some of the relatable experiences that they have had on campus. This year the guest speaker, TOO BLACK, will be able to present at the event. TOO BLACK is a spoken word poet, public speaker, activist and educator based in Indianapolis.
“[Students] are given the outlet to showcase any talent or passion they may have,” Foy said. “We also have a keynote speaker who is a Indy native and an international spoken word artist TOO BLACK. He will come and share his art, as it relates to many of the experiences that students of color have on campus.”
Michaela Ivory, first-year chair of BSU, details her excitement about this year’s event.
“I am a first-year student at Butler. I’m excited because this will be my first time attending the event,” Ivory said. “Melanin Monologues is an event that showcases the talents and skills of students and staff at Butler University. Performers may do a variety of things from spoken word poetry to singing to reading literary excerpts. The possibilities are endless!”
Ivory also stresses that all who are interested may attend this event, and they do not have to be affiliated with the Black Student Union in any way in order to perform.
“The Black Student Union encourages students, faculty, and staff members of all backgrounds from Butler University to participate and attend this event.” Ivory says.
The annual event, which began in February 2016, shares the same name of a novel published in February the year before. Natreema A. Adjaye’s work, “Melanin Monologues: A Black British Perspective,” has the same goal of the performance hosted at Butler. In the novel, Adjaye strives to provide insight into influences that racial classifications and stereotypes have had on Black British communities, while presenting an honest account of what it means to be African-American in modern society.
Melanin Monologues was hosted at Butler for the first time in 2016. Abraham Diop, first-year chair at the time for the BSU, shared his experience in witnessing the debut of the event.
“The first melanin monologues was powerful,” Diop said. “It was powerful to see there was so much talent for black art on campus that I or many others had never seen before. From poetry to music it was all beautiful and awe-inspiring.”
Diop also spoke of the benefits that can be derived from Melanin Monologues, especially regarding how art is the focal point that makes the event possible in the first place.
“It helps diversify the Butler community’s sense of art. Black students can very much be seen as one dimensional, we’re either students and athletes or students and activists, but there are black student artists as well or all three that I just mentioned and then some,” Diop said. “We’re engineers, business people, lawyers, biologists, pharmacists… BSU does an excellent job with it.”
Melanin Monologues will take place on Friday, Feb. 23. It will be held in the Johnson Room, inside Robertson Hall, at 6 p.m. and is open to all Butler students and faculty.