On Wednesday, Mar. 4, Charis Bly brought EMU its second annual Black Excellence Mixer in the McKenny Hall ballroom. The event was also sponsored by The Delta Nu Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc and the EMU Student Government.
Walking into the event, the line went out the door, with crowds of people waiting to get in and check it out. The smell of pizza, cookies and soul food gave the guests a preview of what to expect.
Once inside, student booths lined the walls and today's popular music blasted producing a comfortable feel to the environment. Guests wandered from group to group learning from each other and bonding with each other. Some even started group dances around the ballroom.
Assortments of food catered to everyone's tastes and needs. One of the goals for the night was to provide a space for students who might be dealing with food insecurities to be able to enjoy a good meal.
As a Resident Assistant in EMU’s Sellers Hall, Bly created the Black Excellence Mixer last year in order to allow students of color to survey student organizations and businesses, as well as come together as a group and socialize. Now, over 50 groups came together to mingle.
“I always felt there was a need for us as a black community to come together especially with all the racial biases that are going on. I felt like we needed a special space for just us,” explained Bly.
Describing differences from the event last year, to this year, Bly described the major changes she observed.
“My first year it was in Sellers Hall, a big event, but not nearly as big as it is now and it just had organizations. But one day I was scrolling through Twitter and I decided I wanted to incorporate some of the black businesses as well. I know Eastern has a lot of students who are multi-talented and looking to make a side hustle, while also going to school. So I thought, let me give them a platform with my free platform of being an RA. I could give them room, give them a table and use my resources to help someone else,” continued Bly.
Donacal Clemons of The Delta Nu Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc, was astounded by the growth of the program. He hopes it will continue to grow in the years to come.
“Who knows, next year we might have to go to the Convocation Center” stated Clemons.
However, Clemons also hopes that in the future they will be able to get athletic teams involved and always maintain the strong platform.
“I wish we had more sports teams. I feel like providing that space where athletes are able to interact with students would help them gain more attendance at their games and their events. It is important being able to provide a space where students of color are able to come and feel accepted and be able to look for things that may resonate with them, whether it is an organization or a business they want to support. ” aspired Clemons.
Malaysha Easter and Monae Royale are members of the EMU Eaglettes. They had a stand, but also took the time to explore other groups themselves.
“We are all family, it is a large community of black people at EMU and I hope that everyone knows that we are here for each other. I hope people can take this as a bonding event,” said Easter.
“Over 50 organizations came out to one event to support each other and it shows that we all love and support one another. After everything we have been through as a community we can still come out and do greatness,” added Royale.