ARC’s “Welcome Black” Mixer Connects Black Students to community resources

“Welcome Black” event offers support resources and restorative energy to students of color

American+River+College%E2%80%99s+Black+Student+Success+Center+partners+with+Sac+City+College%E2%80%99s+African+American+Student+Healing+and+Empowerment+Center+to+%22Welcome+Black%22+students+of+color%2C+with+a+mixer+event+on+February+5th%2C+2021.

American River College’s Black Student Success Center partners with Sac City College’s African American Student Healing and Empowerment Center to “Welcome Black” students of color, with a mixer event on February 5th, 2021.

Ben Kynaston, Staff Writer

The American River College’s Black Student Success Center and Sacramento City College’s African-American Student Healing and Empowerment Center will host a Zoom event for students of African descent on February 5 at 11:30 a.m. The event will welcome students to the spring semester with live music, inspiring speakers, and raffle prizes and allow them the opportunity to connect with Black peers and mentors.

Both of the Student Success Centers offer academic resources to Black students who may struggle to connect with and learn from teachers in an environment where their heritage and history may not be respected, appreciated or acknowledged. 

“Black Faculty and Staff from all four campuses collaborated to make this event possible along with other upcoming Black History Month activities,” Tera Diggs-Reynolds, the Black Student Success faculty coordinator said in an email to the Current. “This event came from the ASHÉ Center and the idea was birthed by Lisa Hayden, their amazing Support Specialist.”

The African-American Student Healing and Empowerment Center offers peer mentorship, a safe community study space as well as counseling and advisement services for students who feel alienated, need support or simply want to connect more with their heritage and community. 

ARC’s Black Student Success Center offers counseling, tutoring and information on the Blackademia program which seeks to connect students with referrals and services to help with their academic pursuits.

The emcee of the event, Black author and multimedia journalist Miss Marianna Sousa was the student trustee and representative at American River College from 2016 to 2017 and went on to publish a trauma healing workbook in 2018.

“Ready to rock the Los Rios Community College’s district-wide ‘Welcome Black’ event for the 2021 Spring Semester jump-off,” Souza wrote on her Instagram page. “So proud of those who are committed to sharing resources with students who are striving to complete their education plans. With all the changes in the world, it’s a joy to recognize, inspire and agitate greatness for students along the way.”

With these changes disproportionately affecting Black communities, to Diggs-Reynolds the event seems more timely and important than ever.

“The event, of course, is open to all students, however, with the recent events at our Nation’s Capital, police brutality and the racial disparities and social injustices that affect the Black Community,” Diggs-Reynolds said. “It is important to let our Black students and other students of color know that Los Rios supports Black Lives Matter and that there are programs, resources, and people here to help them achieve their academic and career goals.” 

Diggs-Reynolds says providing a safe space to make connections in the community and discover resources for their academic and personal growth goals may be the primary motivation behind the event, but she is most excited about bringing levity to an isolating and difficult time.

“I’m excited to see all the students who show up and the smiles, laughter, and positive energy in the room during these hard times as well as the live deejay and all the exciting activities we have planned,” Diggs-Reynolds said.

Other speakers at this event will include ARC president Melanie Dixon and Cosumnes River College President Edward Bush, the vice president of Student Services at Sacramento City College, Davin Brown, the dean of Student Services at Folsom Lake College, Kelly Sims Butler, BJ Snowden, vice president of Educational Services and Student Success at the Los Rios Community College District office, with live music from deejay Remme Rem.