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‘We’re just trying to make it better every single year’: Black Student Union reflects on 2024 Black Explosion

This year’s fashion show continues traditions while raising standards

The year's Black Explosion hosted by the Black Student Union celebrated Black History Month by paying homage to folklore from African cultures. | Courtesy of Black Student Union
The year's Black Explosion hosted by the Black Student Union celebrated Black History Month by paying homage to folklore from African cultures. | Courtesy of Black Student Union

This year’s Black Explosion — the Black Student Union’s (BSU) annual fashion show, hosted Feb. 24 at Buffalo Marriott Niagara — kept with its tradition in showcasing Black culture and diversity, while marking a comeback for the organization. 

The drive for something new began with Samuel Agorioge, the former president of BSU. He saw last year’s event as a success but wanted to raise the bar even higher.

“Not to say last year wasn’t a good year, but we could’ve done better,” Agorioge, a junior criminology major, said. “This year [had] very high expectations for us: we want to make sure that these are events not only to highlight Black excellence… but also to commemorate Black History Month as well.”

The show’s fresh start began with its storybook-like theme, titled “Snowfall: the Royal Clash,” dedicated to honoring folklore in African cultures. Stories such as Anansi the Spider and Jaja the Greedy Hunter find their home in Verohn, a fictional, mystical land created by BSU’s activity coordinator, Tatyana Kingston. Verohn consists of four clashing kingdoms that fight each other for the power to rule. 

Each kingdom showcased performances from student dance teams including UB’s 8 Count and Step Troupe, along with guest performers such as SUNY Albany’s dance group, Knemesis, and cultural drummers Joshua and Tray. 

The Sukey tribe elegantly showed off their bodies in bikinis and shorts reminiscent of their roles as mermaids and mermen—the defenders of the sea. The Tutu regime finds its pride in its strength as hunters clothed in fur, their symbol of wealth. The Nyasha kingdom, the current rulers, adorned its people in gold, luxurious clothing to represent their status. The Anansi dynasty boasted warriors cloaked in shields and armor. 

Kingston described the worldbuilding process as an opportunity to highlight the stories not often told as much as they should be.

“It’s something that not many people who are born in America really know about, so [we’re] just giving something to look into,” Kingston, a senior exercise science major, said. “This is something that your ancestors might have known, some stories that have been passed down through generations and [we get] to bring them to light again.”

Representing the kingdoms on stage is no less captivatingly surreal than the world itself.

“It was reading a book that you don’t want to get your eyes off of,” Essence Bishop, a sophomore communications major and model for Black Explosion, said. 

Much of the confidence stems from the safe space BSU fosters for its members, especially those modeling for the first time, before and during the show. 

“At the end of the day, [the e-board] are coordinators and will make sure you’re on top of your stuff. But we’re all just friends,” Bishop said. “They made sure [we understood] that we’re on the same level and that they just wanted us to do the best we could for the show. It was really fun to experience everything that was there.” 

“It felt like a nice community, and everyone was encouraging and kind to each other so it was a really nice place to be a part of,” Legrand Davis, a freshman computer science major and model for Black Explosion, said.

The warm atmosphere was the BSU e-board’s main focus. Giving their members an enjoyable experience was prioritized in every step of the planning process, especially when they choose which artists to bring to the stage at the end of the performance. The two artists, Chow Lee and Vontee, served as the finale.

“At the end of the day, this is a show for the public,” Bobbi Cheves, a junior information technology and management major and vice president of BSU, said. 

This community keeps the essence of Black Explosion in the midst of new goals and increasing expectations for each event to be bigger and better than its predecessors.

“[Black Explosion] holds a very deep, respectful place for BSU. It’s a very important event for UB and the Buffalo community as a whole,” Agorioge said. “We just give opportunities to people that need it, and we’re just trying to make it better every single year.”

CORRECTIONS: This article has been updated to more accurately reflect Samuel Agorioge's title, the spelling of Tatyana Kingston's name and the year Black Explosion was started. We regret these errors. 

Mylien Lai is an assistant arts editor and can be reached at mylien.lai@ubspectrum.com 


MYLIEN LAI
mylien-lai.jpg

Mylien Lai is the senior news editor at The Spectrum. Outside of getting lost in Buffalo, she enjoys practicing the piano and being a bean plant mom. She can be found at @my_my_my_myliennnn on Instagram. 

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