The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Reflection of Ebony 2024: Self Love

Sophie Miller
Reflections of Ebony 2024 table decor. Photo taken by Sophie Miller.

Black Student Unity (BSU) held their annual ‘Reflections of Ebony’ celebration on Sunday, Feb. 18. The event ran from 5:30-8:00 p.m. in the Bluffs Ballroom in the Student Union. 

This year’s event had a sold-out attendance with students, staff, faculty and community members in attendance. Some featured guests were University Police (UPD) Chief Allen Hill, UPD Sergeant Cordero Gilliam, RGS Associate Professor Richard Breaux and Reg Hawkins, assistant director for retention in the office of multicultural student services and BSU advisor. 

This year’s event featured a keynote speaker, soul food, music and recognitions. The event focused on Black hair, self-love and acceptance. ‘Reflections of Ebony’ 2024 featured award-winning filmmaker, photographer, author, activist and public speaker, St. Clair Detrick-Jules as its keynote speaker this year. 

Detrick-Jules’ speech focused on her book, My Beautiful Black Hair, a collection of 101 stories about Black women embracing their natural hair.  Detrick-Jules grounds her work in radical love, joy and the knowledge that a more just world is possible. 

She shared stories of the women she met, her own and her younger sister’s journeys in embracing their natural hair. She spoke of the importance of what it means to embrace and love your natural hair and to share your story.

“Another thing I thought about a lot as I was working on this project was how our hair can really add meaning to our identities, to who we are, to how we see ourselves.”

Detrick-Jules’ work started because of her younger sister and is targeted toward Black women and girls, but she stated the importance of self-love and acceptance for everyone, regardless of identity. 

“In this space tonight, I think it’s really beautiful because we are all coming together to help each other feel seen,” Detrick-Jules said.

“As Black women, we have to stop waiting for the world to love us and we have to start loving ourselves unconditionally,” she added.

In an interview following the event, Detrick-Jules reflected on her experience at Brown University, where similar celebrations empowered Black students, staff and faculty.

 “This is my first time speaking at an event in this format, and it’s very special to me because when I was a student at Brown, we had the Black Appreciation Dinner every year.” She continued, “I always remember feeling really empowered after the keynote speeches and so now it’s sort of a full circle moment; and it’s such a huge honor to be able to offer a keynote in a similar setting-dinner for Black students to feel seen and heard and valued, so it means a lot for me to be able to be here and share the space with students. I think at any PWI it can be difficult to carve out your space.”

The BSU Executive Team has been planning and fundraising for this event for months leading up to it. BSU President Alex White said, “It means a lot cause it shows all our hard work and it showcases how much we can dedicate to show our power and collaborate.” 

Prior to the keynote speaker, the event had a dinner featuring all soul food including mac and cheese, collard greens, mashed potatoes, fried chicken and more. Chartwells works in collaboration with BSU to provide the dinner for ‘Reflections of Ebony’ every year.

Those in attendance at ‘Reflections of Ebony’ dressed in formal attire for the evening. The event’s theme was black, white and gold this year. The BSU executive team dressed in formal attire in accordance with the event’s theme. 

The event also recognized the graduating seniors in BSU, members of BSU who are embodying the mission, values and ideals of the organization in their lives. The club also announced they will have a new senator in Student Association, Hephzibah Ohihoin- a fellow reporter of The Racquet Press. 

At the conclusion of the event, BSU Vice President Hailey Schock said, “It [Reflections of Ebony] just means a sense of community, I think that’s really hard sometimes to get here and events like this are just to bring people together.” 

BSU meets every Thursday from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in 2313 Centennial Hall; all are welcome to attend. The Racquet Press recently sat down with four of the BSU executive team about the club, upcoming events and their experiences as students of color on this campus, read about it here.

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About the Contributor
Sophie Miller
Sophie Miller, Social Justice Reporter
  • Year at UWL: Senior
  • PGPs: She/Her/Hers
  • Hometown: Prairie du Chien, WI
  • Major: Dual Major in Political Science & Communication Studies with a Public Communication and Advocacy Emphasis
  • Minor: Social Justice Minor
  • Other Campus Involvement: Intern in the Financial Aid Office
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Attend Graduate School
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Going to Pettibone Beach
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