Have you seen the cultural and racial division within society lately? Unfortunately, it seems to be something that has entered our daily lives. Everyday people in this country attempt to bridge the gap between different cultures, values, talents and opinions, but the task can often be quite challenging. However, during African Awareness Week, the African Student Union (ASU) made the first step on Friday with the “Bridging the Gap Talent Show.” With a diverse line-up of talent, each member of the audience received a chance to watch dancers, singers, orators and other talented students of our campus community.
Chinyere Onuoha, a sophomore in biological engineering, and Isaac Owolabi, a senior in aerospace engineering, both members of the African Student Union, hosted this event. With friendly chemistry, they got along well and made the audience feel at ease. Dr. Tracey Ray, director of Multicultural Student Affairs, Harmony Fayomi, a senior in chemical engineering, and Candace Lee, a senior in business management, served as judges for this event.
Jamar Dawson, a senior in aerospace engineering and a member of Christian hip-hop duo, Evident Shift, opened the show, and it was clear that the judges would have a tough decision choosing a winner. Dawson began the show with a brief yet powerful spiritual rap. He rapped without a beat and maintained a fast pace. Following the opening act, dance group, Fusion, performed to a wide variety of songs. Opening with John Legend’s “Green Light,” Fusion kept the audience enthralled with their amazing dance moves, and most importantly, the diversity within their own group.
Brittany May’s eloquent spoken word challenged the audience to bridge the gap within our own community as well as with our own spiritual relationships. As May, a junior in Africana studies presented her spoken word, the audience made comments in agreement with her statements about the current state of this world. May spoke of the need to maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ and emphasized that the world can achieve more only through prayer. The audience consisted of a variety of races which helped to lend support to the theme, “Bridging the Gap.”
Following Brittany May’s spoken word, Uninhibited Praise sang, “How Excellent is Thy Name” and evoked beautiful emotions within the crowd. While the ten members of the group harmonized and sang, the audience simply watched in amazement and worshipped the Lord. The show continued with Kyle Alston, a senior in engineering, presenting his spoken word posing the question, “Are we Free?” and Danna Bradley, a junior in biological sciences, soulfully singing, “I Need Thee,” by Bishop Paul Morton. Both performances silenced the audience as they listened. Kyle Alston’s spoken word proposed that the audience answer a question and Danna Bradley’s singing entranced the audience. The audience consisted of some who knew about the program and others such as Kendra Jordon, a sophomore in biological sciences, who said, “We didn’t know about it. We heard about it in the brickyard. I’m really glad I came to this. It was something really awesome to be a part of.”
The talent presentation concluded with a poem about the true meaning of love and its misuse, performed by ASU’s, Iwalade Alabi, a sophomore in fashion and textile management, followed by an energy filled performance by the Kappa Lambda chapter of Omega Psi Phi. Food and refreshments were provided during the intermission and following the judging period, Danna Bradley and the members of the Kappa Lambda chapter of Omega Psi Phi received first place.
Overall, students really enjoyed the show. Michael A. Griffin II, a freshman in First Year College, said that “It was culturally enlightening when observing various aspects of African culture. Not only did the program bridge the gap between African Americans, it also invited other nationalities, which enhanced the diversity of the entire program. It was a great experience.” It seems as though many were impressed with the diversity at this event. Ashley Lowe, a freshman in psychology, said, “I thought it was well organized. They [ASU] had good talent. They had a diverse turnout. There wasn’t just one type of lineup.”
The African Student Union presented a variety of talent to a diverse audience willing to listen. While it takes many more events like this to “Bridge the Gap,” ASU receives high marks for helping the campus begin its journey to a more unified and tolerant one.