HSU celebrates Black History Month

This year's focus is on overall wellness for students of color

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Celebratory events in light of Black History and Liberation Month are underway at Humboldt State University, which kicked off the annual call to American racial awareness with a sold-out lecture on Feb. 3 by Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too movement well before it became a hashtag campaign and senior director of Girls for Gender Equity, as well as an open house to recognize the MultiCultural Center’s 25th anniversary.

Each year the theme of HSU Black History Month events changes, according to Janaee Sykes, lead student assistant at HSU’s African American Center for Academic Excellence, which organizes the month-long festivity in partnership with other campus groups, including the Black Student Union.

“Overall, our main objective is to basically promote health and wellness for students of color,” Sykes said. Finding access to adequate health care that meets the needs of students of color is “very hard” in Humboldt County, she said, especially for those who are coming from more densely populated areas like Southern California.

Event highlights for this year’s theme of holistic well-being include “Soul Fitness Thursday,” featuring a different exercise format each week through Feb. 28, including kemetic yoga, hip hop cardio, and step.

In addition to emphasizing physical health, the African American Center is promoting mental-emotional wellness through programs such as “Anger … Got Me Feelin’ Some Type of Way!” — a four-part group session happening on Wednesdays, starting Feb. 20, geared toward differentiating between healthy and unhealthy responses to the emotion — and “This Romantic Relationship Thing Got Me Trippin’,” a three-part series on growing into adult intimacy that began Wednesday and will continue through Feb. 20. The month will also make space for aesthetic self-care with “Sanders’ Grooming Lounge Pop-Up” — “a showcase” of local black business owner Shaydreca Sanders’ hair care products and a list of services available in her Eureka shop — as well as “Shine Aesthetic & Dewy’s Pop-Up” — which will display services and products of locally black-owned beauty supplies.

To promote black professional advancement, the month-long celebration will also give young people of color a chance to find a job or volunteer opportunity through a Career and Volunteer Expo on Thursday.

Finally, students will be able to provide themselves and each other physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment with the “Home Away From Home Potluck” that will be taking place from 5 to 7 p.m. at the D Street Community Center in Arcata today. Hosted by Equity Arcata, a coalition of city leaders and members of the HSU community organized around racial justice initiatives, the “Soul Food”-themed get-together is designed to foster community building and will feature a “Free Stuff” table to which students and non-students alike are invited to contribute home goods, toiletries and school supplies.

“We hope to foster stronger connections between students, particularly students of color, and non-student community members,” said Malcolm Chanaiwa, racial equity intern for the city of Arcata, who is helping to coordinate the event.

Chanaiwa said that Equity Arcata wants the city to be a welcoming and safe environment for people of color and the potluck is one way to facilitate the creation of safe space.

Participants are encouraged but not required to bring a dish.

Events are free and open to the public. For the full schedule of month-long events, check the African American Center for Academic Excellence Black History Month calendar at https://aacae.humboldt.edu/black-history-month.

Robert Peach can be reached at 707-441-0503.

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