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Black Anthology focuses on awareness of racial issues, college student experience

| Staff Reporter

Black Anthology focused on the importance of staying aware of racial issues post-Ferguson in its performances this weekend. This year’s production, titled “woke,” depicted the hardships and adversity African-Americans experience on a daily basis on predominantly white campuses.

According to their website’s mission statement, Black Anthology, created in 1989, is a yearly production aimed at highlighting the nuances the black community experiences, in both past and present America, in the hopes to bring forth awareness of black issues to the general community of St. Louis.

BA2Skyler Kessler | Student Life

“woke” centered on six students and how race affects their daily lives at Bennett University in Boston, Mass. The narrative covered issues ranging from family and social lives to interracial couples to living with the emotional pain of knowing every day that another African-American has been killed by police.

The show, directed by senior Schuyler Atkins and produced by senior Alex Mitchell, also includes various interspersed dance routines adding beauty and emotion to the theatrical experience.

“I feel like it was really nice, because it was relatable. I can definitely see some of the issues that happened on that campus happening on this campus,” freshman Jennifer Metu said.

Issues of racism were visible last year in a series of racist comments posted on Yik Yak following Black Anthology’s performance, “The Six.” These posts referred to such things as gun violence and affirmative action.

“Now that everything is so televised, Ferguson woke us up,” Atkins said in a previous Student Life interview. “Now, people are ‘woke,’ while they still want to be happy and vibrant…We had the play before we had the title…someone suggested ‘woke’ and it was perfect, it clicked.”

Throughout the performance the narrative’s main characters Zora, played by senior Dana Robertson, and Leon, played by senior Akeda Hosten, talk about the guilt they feel from trying to live their lives happily while members of the black community are victims of hate crimes everyday.

“It really touched on issues of how it is to be trying to be involved in current events, while black, but also having to separate your life as a student from what’s going on around you,” junior Desirae Vaughn said.

BA1Skyler Kessler | Student Life

Black Anthology approached “woke” in a manner so as to allow them to portray important information whilst also holding the audience captive. Although the narrative touched on very serious topics, it was done through relatable comedy, and there were many points throughout the show when the theater was filled with laughter.

“I really liked it a lot. The acting was amazing and the dancing was great. Everything was so pretty to watch while having a great message,” senior Alex Webb said.

Alongside the audience, the cast enjoyed themselves as well.

“It has been one of my best experiences since I’ve been here… As a black individual, to be part of such a great cultural group… It’s been such a great experience for everyone involved. We had so much fun,” freshman Chris Gauss said.