Black Star Journal gala celebrates publication launch

The Black Star Journal held a gala at the Hazeltine Commons on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the launch of its first issue last Friday.

The event featured reflections from the journal’s editors, Amiri Nash ’24 and Keiley Thompson ’24, followed by performances of selected works from the journal’s first issue. The Black Star Journal is the first black student newspaper on campus, according to Nash. The creation of the publication was announced on November 10, The Herald previously reported.

The event began with remarks from Nash, who called on the gala audience to “delight in discovering our history, our beauty, our triumph, our pain and our 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 article, I wanted to talk about how the past follows us into the future…knowing that generational trauma must involve generational joy,” Mayers said. “If our ancestors can transmit 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 exhibit at the RISD Museum that explores “notions of how we perceive blackness and black bodies,” Amuh said. The subject of his piece was “Untitled”, a photograph by artist Roy DeCarava included in the RISD exhibit.

Amuh explained that while “everything that is said and described in this diary is so important and important… not everyone has access to (BSJ) for various reasons.” Her article emphasizes both visibility and invisibility to honor the “black life that won’t be relegated to this newspaper.”

The 20-page publication, distributed at the gala, includes works by black writers and creators, including Mayers and Amuh. The full publication was distributed in print to various locations on campus.

The Black Star Journal was founded to document everyday black life on campus while providing a platform for black student creators, according to Nash and Thompson.

“I was thinking about the history, the archives, and being able to access the daily presence of black students (at Brown),” Nash said. “I haven’t seen this happen 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 are no resources “that detail what it’s like to be Black at Brown,” Thompson added. “Blackness has a very broad definition…and we hope to add to that definition by releasing this document and giving people a place to feel seen and heard.”

Jacob L. Thornton