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Saturday, June 15, 2024

‘Melanin in the Media’ and more: A look inside UW-Madison’s Black History Month

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s 2022 Black History Month will focus on the theme “Melanin in Media” throughout the month of February, hosting a variety of events including film screenings, open mic nights and workshops. 

The Black History Month Planning Committee (BHMPC) explained that this year’s celebration is crafted specifically to reflect upon the people, culture and the Blackprint in America.

“Our aim is to move beyond the blueprint set in American media and to include our stories by laying the foundation for the Blackprint,” the BHMPC said in the description of the event. “The Blackprint advocates for the infusion of Black culture within the mainstream media as it is often ignored among Eurocentric norms.” 

BHMPC Secretary Sydne Jenkins emphasized that Blackprint is a play on the word blueprint, showcasing “how Black people have really left their footprint on society.”

The vision for this year as per the BHMPC is to bring awareness to how, historically, Black people were and continue to be excluded from media outlets, yet have brought significant influence to the way mainstream media currently functions. 

“Black representation isn’t really a thing right now, especially in the media. This theme goes beyond and includes athletics and different types of media,” Jenkins added. “We wanted to broadcast that and make it known. It's important for young people to see that Black representation in the media.”

Aramide Adegoke, a member of the BHM Planning Committee, described her thoughts on how the university respects and honors its Black population.

“The university tries to represent and show its diversity. In the end, it doesn’t come out because there is not a lot of diversity on this campus,” Adegoke said. “In my opinion, it doesn’t really show because I’m usually the only Black person in (a) class.”

Jenkins followed with the sentiment of “good effort, but bad execution,” emphasizing that many students of color are likely attending UW-Madison because of scholarships — not the university’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

“The main reason is not usually because of diversity,” Jenkins said. 

The month of February will be marked with multiple events put on by the BHMPC, the Black Cultural Center and partners across the UW-Madison campus.

The first kickoff event for UW’s Black History Month will be a mass media mixer on Feb. 4 where attendees will learn about Black representation from a series of speakers and presentations as well as gather insight into the overall theme of “Melanin in the Media.”

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Films shown during the month by the Wisconsin Union Directorate include Moonlight, BlacKkKlansman and Bamboozled. 

The month’s keynote event will be an evening with Ruth E. Carter, an Academy Award-winning costume designer who worked on Black Panther and Malcolm X, among many other movies. One of the final events, it will take place at Union South on Feb. 27.

“We still are dealing with this pandemic and we were able to come through and put on a whole month’s worth of events,” Jenkins said. “We’re super proud of it and excited to see how it turns out.”

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