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The Antelope

Speak up, speak out

Kowa, a senior organizational and relational communications major, is a member of the Black Student Association. Kowa plans to present poems at BSA’s Open Mic Night at the Student Union.

Kowa to talk self-image, feminism during Black Student Association’s first annual Open Mic Night

Sydnee Bartruff

With the amount of homework and advanced classes, college can be academically challenging. As if that’s not hard enough, add the immensity of feeling pressured to fit in on campus.

Students want to speak up and speak out and now they can.

Black Student Association will host their first-ever Open Mic Night at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Cedar Room in the Student Union.

While the theme for the event is feminism across cultures, students are encouraged and welcome to voice their opinions regarding other global or local issues.

“We think it’s very important to promote unity on campus,” said Njali “Chief” Kowa, the public relations officer for BSA. “We are saying ‘hey, if you want to read something that speaks volumes to you, come on right ahead and be a part of this (event) because we want you to be.’”

The organization, re-established in fall 2017 after being inactive for about three years, is open to any student interested in issues that impact African-Americans and people of African descent.

Kowa, a UNK senior, joined the group after meeting Dr. Toni Hill, an associate professor in the family studies department who helped restart BSA. Ironically, Hill and Kowa met in 2015 while visiting mutual friends in a hospital.

After hearing he was attending UNK, Hill told Kowa to reach out with any questions and informed him about BSA.

“She inspired me to join and she made me realize how important it is and how much bigger it is than me. It’s not just me. I am representing more,” Kowa said.

The Omaha-native will be reading poems he wrote for the Open Mic event. His messages pertain to women, self-respect and self-reflection.

“I think it’s very important to tell women around me and ones I encounter to be strong,” said Kowa, referring specifically to women who have been through abusive relationships.

Kowa’s powerful message, however, goes to all women in today’s society. 

“As a woman, I find it extremely disappointing when I see women putting other women down, not only with their words but also with their actions,” said Ashley Olivas, adviser of BAS. “We live in a society that tells us we cannot and should not do a number of things; it is our job to prove the world differently.

Olivas, of Ord, said women are supposed to uplift other women and that it is their “job”.

When thinking about abusive relationships, however, Kowa suggests that uplifting can apply to both males and females.

“I know a lot of people are stuck in relationships just because it’s familiar or just because it’s been a long time so it’s important to self-reflect,” Kowa said. “Self respect goes a long ways.”

As someone who describes himself as “virtuous” and passionate about “unifying and oneness,” Kowa, with the help of Dr. Hill, values the opportunities and connections BSA has to offer.

“If you’re just looking for a group that’s going to welcome you, that’s going to accept you for who you are, I say join BSA,” Kowa said.

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