Traci Williams ‘AC ‘18
Since the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Feb. 2012, social media and newsfeeds have been on a strange Chocolate High. Rarely does a week pass by without a new and repeated posting of an image or video depicting the fallen Strange Fruit of the Black community.
In the last 24 months, politicians, hoping to secure the Black vote, boasted of how they have “always been good with the Blacks,” promised their way is A Better Way, or that they have The Cure. They were confident Blacks had nothing more to lose – including their lives. Politicians on both sides asked African-Americans to hold onto what they have always held on to –which has sustained them through more than 400 years of oppression and depression, echoing in most black prayer and poem and song: Strength, Courage, and Wisdom.
Brown Skin(s), are you Ready for Love? because There’s [real] Hope. These Eyes of Smith College’s Black Students Alliance (BSA) recognize you and I [are] Not [Our] Hair. From Feb. 3 to 5, BSA offers its community a Wonderful and Beautiful Surprise. Can You Hear Us Now? promises three Beautiful Day(s) of Healing, Growth, focus on the Heart of the Matter.
Four time Grammy Award winner and platinum-selling artist India Arie will give the Keynote address; hence the reason many of her song titles were inserted to construct this piece. Arie has used her platform to “spread hope, love, truth, and encouragement,” while reminding the Black community of its worth and its capacity for healing. The gifted and talented nine members of Smith’s first and only Black Campus Ministries (BCM) praise group, “Blackappella,” will provide spiritual musical Therapy Saturday at 2 p.m. Director Cai Sherley ’19 shared they “are excited [for the opportunity] to collectively heal, mourn and celebrate” at the conference.
We first saw and heard the group, founded by Adriana Valerio ‘AC, sing “Wade in the Water” at its inaugural performance on Otelia Cromwell Day 2016. In an earlier interview, Sherley expressed the heart of the members: “We celebrate the history of Black people, singing spirituals passed down from our ancestors as well as contemporary music created for us and by us. Blackappella’s mission is to empower Black students through song and to use our voices to engage the larger community in the fight for Black life.” With certainty, I can attest this group is Headed in the Right Direction.
With an emphasis on the Truth of the music in black culture – the Little Things, that sometimes go unnoticed and unspoken – and how music has affected the Black community, Can You Hear Us Now? and BSA invite you to Slow Down, to Breathe, to keep it Simple, to receive This Love and to Just Do You. Tickets for the Keynote are available at the Office of Student Engagement (OSE), free to Smithies with I.D. and included in registration packets for those attending the conference.
For more information, including a schedule of events and details on “The Get Down” after-Conference party, visit cyhunconference2017. com