The screen went dark, the small crowd in Salomon 101 hushed and the video began. "The recent earthquakes in Haiti have killed over 230,000 victims," it read.
The haunting words from Cuban artist Above's work, "Help Thy Neighbor," started off the Saturday night Caribbean Heritage Week event, Applause for a Cause: Haiti Relief Charity Showcase. Student groups, including Brown Badmaash, Divine Rhythm, Mezcla and Juggling Club, as well as individual spoken word performers, showed off their talents while raising money for Haiti.
Proceeds from Applause for a Cause, one of Caribbean Heritage Week's six events, will go toward Ann EDER, a U.S.-based organization founded in 2009. The organization was formed to help children of impoverished rural families receive an education. Recently, it has also provided aid to rural Haitians who were affected by the earthquake but are too poor to get to Red Cross centers, which are usually stationed in cities.
Event co-coordinators Yahellah Best '11 and Yanely Espinal '11 hosted the show.
"These shows usually run well," said Camilla Spinola '10, a member of Mezcla.
"We hope tonight will help us get closer to our fellow Caribbeans in Haiti," said Espinal during the show.
Best said she wanted Brown students to understand that though they are not physically connected to the Caribbean, those of Caribbean heritages still hold on strongly to their identities.
"When people think of the Caribbean, they think of Jamaica and vacations," Best added. "They don't always know about the problems. We are focusing on diaspora, the relation between the Caribbean peoples in the U.S. and those in the Caribbean."
The performances did not all reflect Caribbean culture. Though Mezcla danced to a Puerto Rican song, "El Ritmo No Perdona" by Daddy Yankee, Juggling Club came out in unicycles and wowed the crowd by tossing bowling pins and knives back and forth.
Upcoming events for Caribbean Heritage Week include a Caribbean movie night and a panel on self-identity.