By Kalinowski, Tim on February 28, 2020.
Lethbridge College celebrated the end of Black History Month on campus Thursday with an African food and dance party.
About 100 students and staff members attended the interactive event. Underlying all the fun was a serious message, said celebration organizer Ibrahim Turay, who teaches in the college’s School of Justice.
“When you see black persons, we are not a single entity,” said Turay. “We are from different backgrounds. Some are born in Africa. Some are born in Canada. Some are born from the Caribbean. Some are from the U.S.”
“When I started here (at Lethbridge College) back in 2015 we had a small number of black students,” he added. “But since then, we have had an explosion in the number of black students that are on campus. This (event) is something good for the college to take on because they have a population that is growing, and we are in a community that needs to show this diversity that we have.”
Abdul Aziz Sali, owner of Arts Marvels, was one of the featured dancers during the celebration. He said growing up in Nigeria music and dance were part of everyday life, but the African and black community in Lethbridge rarely has a chance to go out and strut its stuff. He relished the opportunity on Thursday to showcase some Afro-rhythm music and dance for a multicultural audience.
“You get a chance to show other people (your culture), and maybe they get intrigued and entertained by the little things then they come and ask more questions,” he said. “And then you can enlighten them and tell them: this is what we do and this is where this is from. It gives them a reason to want to know more. I find the best way to get people to understand what you’re doing is to entertain them first. Just like when you are selling something; you catch the person’s attention and then you can tell your story.”
Curiosity is the mechanism through which others can get beyond their pre-conceived notions and stereotypes about black people, agreed Turay.
“Don’t be afraid to ask a question,” he said. “Don’t make an assumption about people. Let’s learn about each other and be open to our differences.”
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