The Black Star Journal hosted a gala in the Hazeltine Commons Sunday afternoon to celebrate the launch of its inaugural issue last Friday.
The event featured reflections from the journal’s editors-in-chief, Amiri Nash ’24 and Keiley Thompson ’24, followed by performances of select works from the journal’s first issue. The Black Star Journal is the first Black student newspaper on campus, according to Nash. The publication’s creation was announced Nov. 10, The Herald previously reported.
The event began with remarks from Nash, who called on the gala audience to “enjoy learning about our history, beauty, triumph, pain and joy through the power of words, art and visuals.”
Gala attendees watched Black Star Journal Columnist Caziah Mayers ’24 perform “Eyes Wide Shut,” a reflection on the coexistence of Black generational trauma and joy.
“For my piece, I wanted to talk about how the past follows us into the future … knowing that generational trauma must imply generational joy,” Mayers said. “If our ancestors can pass their pain to us and our bodies, then we must have their … positive experiences (and) their traditions.”
Following Mayers, Nicholas Amuh ’24 delivered a reading of “Black Visuality in the Arts: Agency in the Unseen,” an article he wrote for the inaugural issue. Amuh’s work reflected on “Defying the Shadow,” an art exhibition at the RISD Museum that explores “the notions of how we perceive Blackness and Black bodies,” Amuh said. The focus of his piece was “Untitled,” a photograph by artist Roy DeCarava included in the RISD exhibition.
Amuh explained that while “everything that’s being said and portrayed in this journal is so important and so prominent … not everyone has access to (BSJ) for various reasons.” His article emphasizes both visibility and invisibility to honor the “Black life that will not be relegated to this newspaper.”
The 20-page publication, distributed at the gala, includes works by Black writers and creatives including Mayers and Amuh. The full publication was distributed in print at locations throughout campus.
The Black Star Journal was founded in order to document everyday Black life on campus while platforming Black student creators, according to Nash and Thompson.
“I was thinking about history, archives and being able to access the day-to-day presence that Black students (at Brown) live,” Nash said. “I didn’t see that happening around me … and I thought the perfect way to (do it) was to document stories and preserve history while giving Black students on campus a chance to see themselves reflected in the media.”
There aren’t resources “that detail what it’s like to be Black at Brown,” Thompson added. “Blackness has a very expansive definition … and we’re hoping to add to that definition by releasing this paper and giving people a place to feel seen and heard.”