On Friday evening in the SOU, the BSU (Black Student Union) hosted their Soul Food Dinner event with a night full of delicious soul food followed by performances from members of the club. The menu was full of appetizing soul food like fried catfish, mac and cheese, collard greens, mashed potatoes, fried chicken and sweet potato pie.
One of the performers for the night, Skylar Williams, opened up to what soul food meant to him. “I would say the biggest thing soul food means to me is just family. I can remember my grandmas, my great grandmas and my aunties just all cooking and getting everything ready and all of us sitting down to eat. I’m happy I was able to share a couple of those dishes with my family here. It’s something we all love and cherish.”
Emma Roots, another member of the BSU echoed a similar sentiment. “My adopted family’s from Tennessee, so we cook a lot of soul food in my household. I’m from Texas so we get a lot of that kind of food there as well. It’s really in my roots pretty much and I grew up with it a lot. I have missed it so much being in Oregon, it’s a little taste of home.”
A lot of the performances of the night focused on the theme of representation and oppression that black students feel on campus or in living their daily lives. Here are a couple of quotes from some of the amazing performances from that night.
“Trials and tribulations are often followed by realizations. By a sensation of freedom creative vision swirled by a humble position. If you question, you need to listen. You think it’s America but it’s a prison.”– Skylar Williams, Egypt Was Not Built in a Day.
“But lately, I have found myself exhausted from repeating the same rhetoric. For a while I felt like I was making real change at this university But now, I am hitting the same wall, I am suffocating in a room full of windows. I feel silent in an environment that’s supposed to be welcoming and inclusive. I tell you, ‘I’m suffocating,’ you tell me to wait.”– Bathscèba Duronvil
Club President, Bathschèba Duronvil gave a performance at the event opening up about the feeling of representation on campus. When asked about the presentation Duronvil said, “My presentation was just I’m tired is what it is. Recently here at SOU, I’ve been finding that I’ve had to repeat myself. Everywhere I go I tell people ‘I’m suffocating’. I need my own space as a black woman in a predominantly white university and I’m not given that here, and every time I tell people they tell me ‘wait’ they keep giving me different excuses and it’s like I can’t wait! I’m suffocating now. I’m facing racism now. I need my space. It came from pain and it came from healing”
Skylar Williams also supports the need for more representation here on campus by adding, “I joined the BSU 4 years ago and it’s something that’s always been really important to me because as a student of color we really need support outside of what we get in our regular experience.”
The event was to present soul food and help spread the word about the BSU, but there was more to it according to Duronvil who shared, “Basically the point of this entire event is to establish our presence as black students at SOU. Not only to say that we’re here, but to create a space of healing for us and to be surrounded by other black folks and other people who want to celebrate our culture and our ancestors with us.”
Ariel Reeves, a sophomore who attended the event can’t wait to come back next year. Not just for the food but also the presentations and the experience. Reeves explained, “I think this is one of the best events that the school puts on. The food was absolutely delicious, and probably the best food I’ve ever eaten on this campus. The presentations were very moving and I was mesmerized. When you come here you’re not just paying for the food, you’re paying for the experience.”