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Black History Month provides an opportunity to celebrate Black culture

ASU community members celebrate Black History Month through fashion, activism and pride

20200211 Fashion Black History 0005

Fashion senior LeOndra Bryant-Malio works on a dress in the Tempe Center's fashion studio on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, on the Tempe campus.

From designing entire outfits to promoting awareness, current and previous ASU community members are using their talent and time to celebrate Black History Month and promote representation.

LeOndra Bryant-Malio, a senior studying fashion and founder of clothing company Loveur, initially created the company to get her designs into the public eye. However, she soon felt inspired to use her talent for a greater purpose. 

In an effort to showcase the talent and drive of Black people in her community, Bryant-Malio and other local business owners will be giving away a custom graduation or prom dress, hair and makeup services and a photoshoot to one Phoenix high school senior.

Those interested in applying must show intent to acquire some form of education beyond high school and provide a letter of recommendation. The application is due Feb. 21.

Bryant-Malio said she hopes to use this opportunity to educate members of her community and beyond about Black History Month and inspire other Black people to pursue their dreams. 

"The Black history piece is education and it's just to show that you can come from nothing and be something," Bryant-Malio said. 

Although Bryant-Malio will design the dress to the recipient's liking, she said she would be happy to see some elements of Black History Month incorporated into the design. 

"Our voice can be heard, our representation is growing; however we still have more work to do to continue to impact the fashion industry with diversity and culturally conscious decisions,” Bryant-Malio said. 

ASU clubs across campus have been hosting cultural events that celebrate African American heritage and diversity in the community. Some of the events, like Bryant-Malio's giveaway, focus on the importance of Black representation in fashion. 

Recently, Zaria hosted a head wrap event in honor of Black History Month. 

READ MORE: Video: Head Wraps with Zaria for Black History Month

Kenja Hassan, director of culture relations at the Office of Government and Community Engagement and a graduate student studying nursing, said there is an increase in representation of diversity and culture in fashion. 

“What I’m excited about is greater acceptability of natural hair for Black women and greater enjoyment in African materials and fabric," Hassan said. 

Hassan said hip-hop and African American culture are predominant in other parts of the world. Whether it be a fashion trend or an internet craze, many aspects of popular culture can be traced back to Black origins. 

"I could see the effect of hip-hop fashion into mainstream dress and culture. It is such a part of mainstream culture nowadays," Hassan said. "I don’t even know if people realize that it was a distinctly African American style at one point."

For current ASU students, Black History Month serves as a way to celebrate diversity. However, some feel the University should celebrate Black culture and contributions beyond the month to further promote awareness and inclusion within all industries. 

Jessica Salow, archive specialist for the ASU Library, said she uses her work with the library archives to call attention to underrepresented groups and promote their success. 

“We focus on February as being Black History Month, but Black history happens in all the months," Salow said. "I would like for there to be more talk and more celebration of Black excellence that happens in the Black community outside of February."

Aniyah Braveboy, a junior studying business with a focus in public policy and public service and public relations officer for the Black African Coalition, said that most importantly, Black History Month is a time to celebrate love, history and culture. 

"Historically, Black people have been oppressed," Braveboy said, "We are not equally represented at times. So this month is just dedicated for us to be happy and show our Black pride." 

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Anusha NatarajanDiversity Officer

Anusha Natarajan is in her third year at ASU studying sociology, history, and political science. She previously served as a reporter for the community and culture desk for four semester and helps with Spanish translation and oversees diversity efforts in the newsroom. 

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