“So Much More Than A Regular Event”: Black Student Union hosts Black Business Bingo

Recognition, inspiration, appreciation, acknowledgement, and celebration. So much to cover what should have been already known in only a month. Educating people about the significant contributions and sacrifices made by African Americans in areas such as politics, civil rights, arts, sciences, and many others was successfully achieved by the Black Student Union at Fitchburg State University.

Secretary of the Black Student Union, Lacrinia Dirtion, explains her viewpoint as an executive member of the union by stating “Black History Month is a month to celebrate our culture without being judged and looked at differently. It is a way we can all finally come together as a community. We were given the opportunity to share reasons to love ourselves and the culture we were raised to appreciate. The Black Student Union creates goals to validate the importance of different cultures and shed light on who we really are.”

Many members of the black community express opinions on their educational upbringing, unfolding the unfortunate truth that there was not enough emphasis in standard education regarding black history and the topics covered were very limited.

Member Schekina Pericles voiced “Growing up we were not taught a lot about Africans and African American culture. All you learned about was the brutality surrounding slavery. There were very minimal, if any, times our culture was explored in the classroom. This month highlights the necessary knowledge that didn’t come out of a textbook, and expresses the culture as a whole.”

The prolific team generated a bingo night dedicated to small black owned businesses around the area, as well as incorporated cultural viewpoints throughout the night. These local businesses were given the opportunity through the Black Student Union to utilize empowerment to students who attended the bingo night with crucial help from director of student diversity, equity, and belonging initiatives, Junior Peña.

“So bingo is really popular at Fitchburg State University. I learned very quickly that the students love bingo, and our goal with that is always to find a thematic connection. We found that it would be really awesome to have different ways to empower local and national black owned businesses to receive not only the financial support by us purchasing gifts that we will be able to hand out, but also provide some information about each one of the businesses that we highlighted,” said Junior Peña.. “So after this event ends, we are actually going to email all of the attendees that swiped into our program some information about each one of the businesses that was touched upon. We also supported some of our student-run businesses that are around the area.” (Junior Peña)

Cultural differences are inevitable in all of the right ways. The Black Student Union did an incredible job enhancing all of the differences that make the culture being celebrated so worthwhile.

Small business owner and student Jasmine Howard states, “I love the events that the BSU holds. I wish I was able to come to more but I work a full time job right now. I reached out to BSU because I saw that they were offering support to small black businesses and giving some of our products out as prizes.”

Jasmine went into Bingo night with the hopes of handing out some of her business cards, but she left with even more. The Black Student Union bought some of her products as well as allowed her to introduce her business to the students.

“I felt really appreciative and heard. My month was made in one day,” said Howard.

Creating a safe space for students to be themselves regardless of their identity is exactly the objective the BSU strives to achieve. It is crucial for students to feel connected to one another.

Junior proudly encourages students to “Engage with us. Come out to the events. Talk to us. I know I often get feedback like if you don’t identify as black it’s not applicable to you but my challenge is that we study and learn about histories and identities and people that we have no distinct connection to and so join us. Come out. Meet someone new. And just engage with the opportunity that we might just all need.”

The Black Student Union allows people to feel like they belong. Helping each other, watching each other succeed, and supporting one another is what fuels the union. These programs allow students to expand their educational and social experience.

Black History Month is so much more than just a culture to learn about. It is about acceptance, it is about appreciation, it’s about recognition. The Black Student Union isn’t just another club at Fitchburg State. It is a community, a safe space, an opportunity to find out who you really are. Thanks to the Black Student Union, it is beyond achievable.