Annual Black Arts Coffee House Celebrates Students of Colour and their Talents

Layomi Oloritun ’20 performed stand up comedy, discussing his experiences as a black student at Andover and his upbringing, during the Black Arts Coffee House

The annual Black Arts Coffee House, hosted by Af-Lat-Am, showcased the talents of numerous students on campus. Hosted for the fifth year as part of the celebration of Black History Month, this event was a collection of various performances ranging from poetry readings to stand up comedy. The show was also a teaser for an upcoming Wild ‘N Out event that will be hosted by Af-Lat-Am.

The event constituted of a few planned performances followed by an open mic portion where any member of the audience could come up and perform. The performances ranged from poetry readings to a step routine.

Shahinda Bahanasy ’20 attended the event, and enjoyed the diversity and spontaneity of the performances.

Bahnasy said, “I really liked Addie’s recitation of a Nikki Giovanni poem. I think that it made a lot of sense for her to choose Nikki Giovanni especially since we all know who she is and we’re all familiar with at least one of her other poems that she recited during [All-School Meeting]. I’m glad that she was able to connect with one of her poems and share that with the audience.”

A highlight of the show was an impromptu rap battle between several students. As more and more students came onstage to join the two different teams, the audience became especially excited and supportive. The two teams frantically attempted to come up with new lines and rhymes as the beat of the music and their opponents pressured them along the way. The quick and witty comebacks the students had made the performance extremely entertaining for the audience.

Araba Aidoo ’20 said, “The Af-Lat-Am board has been really trying hard to plan something like this. Black History month is only one month and it just so happens to be the shortest one of the year. It’s important for the black students on campus to have a time specifically dedicated to them. We wanted to give people who have been neglected a space and a time to shine.”

While in past years the Black Arts Coffee House was held in the Underwood room, the event took place in the Susie’s for the first time this year. The change in location attracted a larger audience which allowed the different performers to really interact with their public.

Aidoo said, “I thought the night was really great, the Af-Lat-Am board has been really trying hard to plan something like this and we were just kinda worried because we were like ‘Oh my god, we’re not sure if people are going to come,’ but at the last minute we switched it to the Den and that also brought in a big audience.”

Audience member, Amara Neal ’22 claims that the event was a good showcase of black students’ talent and cited featuring the performances of a specific minority group as a reason for why events such as the Black Arts Coffee House are important for campus.

Neal said, “I just wanted to see black people talk about their experiences here and how they could showcase themselves because it is Black History Month… A lot of times on campus, although we’re always talking about equity, balance, and inclusion, focusing on this one group of people who have obviously had a hard time in the past and probably [do] on a predominantly white campus too, just to showcase their talent and that they belong here and that they are talented [was why I think events like this are important].”