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A taste of culture: Black Student Union hosts Taste of Soul event

Photo credit: Katie Ray McKillop
Members of Archer’s Black Student Union serve samples of dishes from parts of the African diaspora. BSU hosted Taste of Soul Feb. 15 in the courtyard to celebrate Black History Month.

Food is more than just the ingredients that give people energy — it’s a celebration, an artistic expression and a cultural connection. Students and faculty came together in the courtyard for a celebration to learn about Black culture through food.

Archer’s Black Student Union hosted their second annual Taste of Soul event Thursday, Feb. 15. Participating students and faculty brought dishes that are meaningful to them from parts of the African diaspora for community members to sample, such as as fried fish, jollof rice and sweet potato pie. BSU held this event in honor of Black History Month.

“You can learn a lot from food, and you can learn a lot about people’s culture through their food,” co-president of BSU Lacey Thompson (’24) said. “That’s why we think it’s it’s important to share with our Archer community.”

Sophomore Serenity Jones-Nwankwo was the event’s DJ. BSU members set up tables in a semicircle around the fountain for students to grab a plate, walk around and try new dishes. While setting up, BSU members also taped cards on the tables next to the food explaining and providing the history of the dishes. BSU co-adviser Sala Bandele-Jackson said some of the dishes have a history that goes back to enslavement.

“A lot of times, food was a way for enslaved Black people to connect with one another. It was usually one of the only ways for them to do that,” Bandele-Jackson said. “That’s something that has persisted within the Black community ever since, so I just think it’s really important for us to continue those traditions and make them traditions of joy, as opposed to traditions of pain.”

The inspiration for Taste of Soul at Archer came from the L.A. Taste of Soul in Crenshaw, which takes place every October. Local restaurants serve food, and people come to perform music.

“They not only just have food, but they have music … It’s almost like a giant block party,” Thompson said. “There’s games and a bunch of different other things.”

Bandele-Jackson said the goal of Taste of Soul was to have an effect similar to Crenshaw’s event by bringing culinary aspects of Black culture to campus. Her fellow co-adviser of BSU Dani LeNoir said different cultures at Archer can be highlighted through cuisine.

“We have so many Black students here that are from different parts of the diaspora, so we wanted to showcase that through food,” LeNoir said.

Going into the event, Thomspon said she hoped people would have fun and learn new things.

 “We also just hope that … everyone really enjoys all the food and people just talk about it,” Thompson said. “It’s really fun when people are like, ‘Oh my gosh, I love this dish,’ or ‘I’ve never had this before,’ and people try something new and learn something.”

Nika Honarpour (’29) went to Taste of Soul and said it was a festive event. She said she enjoyed how Taste of Soul made her feel involved in the community and it gave her a taste of multiple cultures.

“I’m probably going to get a bit of a cornbread,” Honarpour said. “I don’t think I’ve ever tried cornbread before and I’m really excited to try new things especially from different cultures or ethnicities.”

According to LeNoir, this Taste of Soul was “phenomenal.” They passed out almost all of the food, so next year, they’ll try to either bring more dishes or increase the quantity.

I think it was our best one,” LeNoir said. “I think we’re going to get better every year.” 

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About the Contributor
Katie Ray McKillop, Staff Reporter
Katie Ray McKillop joined The Oracle as a staff reporter in 2023. She is on the surf team and swim team at Archer. In her free time, Katie Ray enjoys painting, baking, reading, and spending time with her friends.

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