Richview’s Black History Assembly: It’s a Movement Not a Trend

By Mona Urata

This year, in light of the pandemic, BHED+ presented their annual assembly virtually through teachers connecting to Zoom to watch the video presentation. The assembly, though different from previous years, was just as meaningful and wonderfully done.

It began with the land acknowledgement as well as the ancestral acknowledgement read by Rukiya Mohamed. 

Angela Darko, one of the hosts of this year’s assembly says,

“This year we want to emphasize the importance of our people and culture.”  

As the heavily discussed topic was performative activism she later followed up with,  “The Black Lives Matter movement was not just a trend for everyone to post a black picture on June second, it is a movement to protest against the unfair treatment that black people endure with authority figures”. 

Praise Erianmie chimes in that

“For me, it wasn’t only meant to educate non-coloured students in the school but to also remind other black students that we are so much more than what society deems us to be. For everyone, I hope that they learned that black history, black excellence and black people go beyond a simple post because a single action is not enough. You need to have a constant desire to change, educate and find a new perspective. It’s just like learning math in school. We didn’t learn it all in one day, we’ve been learning it ever since the first grade because there are so many layers. And the same goes for black history.”

Pictured: Angela & Praise

This assembly kicked off with a collaborative video put together by Khulda Abdi and Khadija Mohamed, explaining what performative activism is and what it has to do with the BLM movement. Many students attending Richview took part with many saying “All lives can’t matter until black lives matter” 

Ethan McCalla then follows by presenting his spoken word titled Dangerous accompanied by images taken during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. Then plays a video of Mayumi King beautifully singing a cover of the  I am by Crowder.

Afterwards, a video put together by Jennessa Tachie plays featuring the beautiful diverse black girls at Richview, accompanied by peng black girls by ENNY ft Amia Brave. Some of the girls are seen proudly wearing traditional clothing from their countries while others have chosen other ways to express themselves like Gabriella Portillo who beautifully sung alongside the song on her guitar. Jennessa later said that “My goal was to showcase the beauty of some of the black girls at our school! Being in quarantine, I wasn’t able to take videos at school. But all of the girls really pulled through and sent me videos and pictures for me to put together. So with their help, I was able to create what I did!”

Following that was a video tutorial by Ciellie Benjamin and her grandmother that shows us a recipe for curry chicken and rice with sweet potato. Here we have attached the recipe below for anyone interested in making the dish at home.

Ingredients – Rice 

  • A cup of red peas 
  • 1 can of coconut milk (400mL)
  • Scotch bonnet peppers (optional) 
  • 2 cups of white rice 
  • 3 cups of water 

First things first start by thawing the chicken 

Rice 

  1. Cook the red peas in water from 30 minutes to an hour 
  2. After the red peas have been cooked stir in a can of coconut milk
  3. Add one scotch bonnet pepper (optional) 
  4. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of salt 
  5. Prepare 2 cups of white rice in a separate large bowl 
  6. Rinse the rice well until the water runs clear 
  7. Drain almost all water from rice 
  8. add in the rice to the peas mixture and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes 

Ingredients – Curry Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken 
  • 7 tablespoons of all-purpose Caribbean seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary 
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder 
  • 5 tables curry powder 

Curry Chicken

  1. Dice one onion and ½ of garlic clove
  2. Pour a tablespoon of hot oil into a warm pan and wait for the oil to sizzle
  3. Add in the diced onion and garlic and let oil sizzle for two to three minutes 

While the onion and garlic are brownings

  1.  Add the thawed chicken to a separate bowl 
  2. Add in 7 tablespoons of all-purpose Caribbean seasoning along with 1 tablespoon of rosemary and 1 table of garlic powder 
  3. Add curry powder into the frying onion and garlic 
  4. Add the seasoned chicken to the curry and onion mixture and stir for a while 
  5. Begin cutting your onions and bell peppers into bite-size pieces 
  6. Once the chicken has cooked for about 15 minutes, add in your bite-size bell peppers and potatoes 
  7. Let the chicken and curry mixture cook on medium-low heat for half an hour, once half an hour has passed turn off the heat to low or all the way  

Ingredients – Sweet Potato

  • 1 large sweet potatoes 
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon 
  • 4 cups of water 
  • Double boiler set 
  1. Wash and skin 1 large sweet potato 
  2. In a bowl sprinkle dash cinnamon onto the potatoes
  3. Wait for your water to boil in a double boiler, once the water has boiled add in your potatoes and steam for 20 minutes 

Grab a plate and enjoy your meal!!

Following Cielle Benjamin’s delicious recipe, Angela Darko and Praise Erianmie provided students with recommendations of youtube videos that recognize and encourage step. In past years, we would have the opportunity to watch amazing step performances put together by the students.  Angela says, “We still love to embrace our culture through dance and step and we are hoping to come back next year to show that off.” So make sure to check out their recommendations…

Awakenings – A Revolution of Love 

“A digital short film that follows a young black woman that grapples with the histories of her ancestors, the present-day violence ravaging her community, and begins to imagine what her future looks like through dance. Conceived by an internationally recognized black creative team and featuring the words of Assata Shakur, this piece spotlights 15 women of varying shades as they come together to reform revolution in the name of love. Filmed at Toronto’s Fort York National Historic Sight in partnership with Soulpepper Theatre.” Angela Darko 

Step – Fox Searchlight 

“Step is a documentary that chronicles the childhood triumph of senior girls on the high school step team in Baltimore, as they prepare to be the first in their families to go to college. Truly inspiring, this documentary shows how step is more than just a hobby and how it is an outlet for these girls and also able to keep them united and fight for their goals.” Praise Erianmie

Like the trailer, we were then able to see a tidbit of last year’s incredible step performance which criticized the overrepresentation of black individuals in Canada’s prison system. This piece was choreographed by former student Brandi Richardson. 

Last but definitely not least, this year’s Black History assembly was concluded by a powerful song performance of Blue Lights done by Celia Suarez. Through her strong vocals and incredible video, this is a performance that will surely be remembered.

Despite the pandemic, this year’s performance was just as incredible, entertaining and educational. When later speaking to one of the hosts and key contributors of this year’s assembly about showcasing black excellence, Angela Darko told us, “Black History Month has also been a fundamental part of celebrating Black Excellence with Black students at Richview. The BHED club always works so hard towards their assembly, and COVID has definitely affected that this year. Although we weren’t able to start preparing and planning early, the club still wanted to be able to show the school just how excellent it is to be Black. The assembly was put together in about 2 months, after long days and late nights. It was definitely not the easiest to put together, as a lot of our assemblies are, but we came together as a group to get everything done!”

Even though black history month has passed, we must remember that black lives matter, that black girl magic and black boy joy are real, black excellence should be recognized and celebrated every day of the year.