February is Black History Month and this year, St. John Fisher College’s Black Student Union is holding an art exhibit to celebrate and commemorate the vivid and strong black individuals through history and into today.
The exhibit is on the first floor of Lavery Library and is a collection of photography and written work by the Fisher community through the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff, faculty, and students all contributed to the exhibit. It will be there for the month of February.
President of Black Student Union, Lisa Balde, hopes to represent black beauty and black power through the art. “People of color aren’t showcased in the media, but I want the Fisher community to have access to that kind of exposure.” She hopes to spread and strengthen something she calls Black joy — or the idea that there is beauty and strength in Blackness. The work ranges from environmental photography, modeling, poetry, and photos of activism in the community.
The poetry in the exhibit touches on the struggle of being a working Black man and one anonymous faculty member weighed in. “They wanted to count me in their number, they could say they had diversity, But they just wanted the presence of my melanin,” this person said. “Success isn’t success until I get you there with me.”
Another poem relates to being a white ally, referring to their years of ignorance as “bliss”, but the wakeup call to racism as “gagging”.
Aware that people will likely be staying home this month, Balde urges the Fisher community to use Black History Month as an opportunity to educate themselves. “When you see the exhibit, think about what it conveys. Learn about Black history and culture. Education equals awareness.”
With the ongoing pandemic, Balde advocates for supporting Black owned business as another way to honor Black History Month. Black Student Union is another great way for the Fisher community to get involved. “Anyone can join. Join to support, join to learn.”
Balde hopes that the exhibit will become a part of Fisher and community tradition — something that people get excited for each year and that continues to grow and be learned from.