This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Brandeis Black Student Organization’s second “Shade of Blackness” event, which was held in the International Cultural Center. As I come from a predominantly white and rural town, it was an amazing chance to see this event.

  The topic of this year was the “Black Effect,” or as stated in the advertisement, the “influence that Black students have [on] Brandeis.” The event featured several different mediums of student art, including song, poetry and dance. Each performance explored topics that are personal to the artists in hopes of creating an open dialogue about what it means to be Black at Brandeis. However, what makes this showcase so exceptional and effective is that it goes further than simply being a series of performances. The artists used their works to not only connect with the audience through shared experiences, but also to interact and include them in the dialogue.

The executive board of the BBSO, who organized the showcase, began by introducing themselves and then asked the audience to do the same by shouting out where they’re from. This lasted a few minutes as everyone tried to out-yell their friends to prove their city was the superior. This showed the diversity of the audience, with people from Atlanta, New York City and even one woman from Cairo, Egypt attending “Shade of Blackness.”

Before the intermission, the audience was asked to take part in an impromptu fashion show. The host invited anybody who felt “that they look good tonight” up to the front. The audience would then vote for their favorite by yelling out compliments and clapping the loudest. The prize was being first in line for food that would be provided during intermission, which was more of a dinner than a break in performances. The showcase continued with more singing and poetry, followed by amazing dancing. 

 The A-lister of the night had to be Trizzy Tré, or Tré Warner ’22, a well-known rapper on campus. His songs were like a form of confessional poetry. Though there was no microphone, he performed with such incredible enthusiasm and energy that the entire audience easily heard him. He tackled subjects like poverty and being Black at a school with a large majority of white students. His songs got the audience to their feet as they took part in the performance by singing the chorus in a call-and-response style. Trizzy Tré will also be opening for this year’s Springfest.

The event was an incredible display of honesty and empowerment. It was a conversation between artist and audience where breaking the fourth wall was encouraged. The atmosphere was electric and the audience could barely sit still with each performance that celebrated individuality. “Shades of Black: Black Effect” provided supporters of the BBSO the opportunity to relate to common experiences and promote solidarity.