The African-American Culture Committee brought out the best and brightest with this year’s “Culture Shock.” The talent show, which took place on Oct. 28 created a space where black art and talent from all areas of the diaspora could be appreciated in a noncompetitive environment.
Story by Imani Sebri
Photos by Ley Herr
The show began with a moment of silence for victims of police brutality and the singing of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Accompanied by nothing more than a crimson background and a drummer, rapper Wande Isola was a fitting opening act. The contemporary dance troupe ChoZen Dance Ministry put a unique twist on a gospel song - with the help of a dancing mime. Khorri Tinson, also known as Skip, brought down the house. She rendered the audience speechless with a contemporary dance piece.
The black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi even made an appearance with their famous “Kappa shimmy.” Umoja, a sorority that inspires women of color, performed a comical skit and a step routine.
Teju, a spoken word poet, delivered a powerful piece about the intersections of oppression and the barriers women,especially women of color, face. “She did a really good job of describing rape culture both literally and figuratively,” biology sophomore Rimsha Syed says. “She put it in context of society. Basically, she was trying to get women to break out of that mindset and free from the standards.”
After intermission, Hip Hop Couture, an empowering fashion collective, took to the stage. Their runway theme was Angels versus Demons, with half of the models dressed in a grungy attire and the others in chic white outfits. “I really like the intersections that fashion allows for,” anthropology and biology sophomore Kevan Govind says. “All of the models were really confident and it was refreshing to see. We don’t give ourselves enough credit.” The night concluded with Redefined Dance Company lighting up the stage with a Harley Quinn and Joker themed routine.
The roster of Culture Shock 2016 was incredibly diverse and dynamic. Dancers, poets, models, singers and step teams came together to showcase black excellence at the University of Texas at Austin.“I came to to this event because I like to embrace cultural diversity and empower people of color in their talent and ambitions,” social work freshman Hibah Shafi says.
The amount of representation showcased in the lineup at Culture Shock was particularly touching to philosophy sophomore, Abrianna Steele. “With us being only four percent of the student body, it feels so amazing to see so much diversity here,” Steele says. The variety of talent showcased at the event brings up the question of what blackness means and the different ways in which it can be displayed. “We’ve been taught to conform in certain ways and so, to me, blackness is uniqueness,” Steele says. “At the same time it’s diversity, it’s the unity we find in being black and the struggles that come along with that.”