| 03.17.2018

‘Shades of Black’ to show culture, talent

Shades of Black, an annual showcase of black culture, will return to the University of Idaho Saturday under the theme “I Am.”“It’s a theme that we deliberately left ambiguous because we really wanted people to look at what defines them as individuals, as a culture, as a gender, as a sexuality … we really left it open to interpretation — also particularly as a show and who we’ve become over the last 10 years … that’s why I thought ‘I am’ would really be good for this year,” said Kwapi Vengesayi, the show’s producer and a Vandal alumnus.
The show will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the Student Union Building ballroom. Doors will open at 5 p.m., but Vengesayi said he advises attendees to arrive early because it is a free event and there is no reserved seating.
Now in its 10th year, Vengesayi said Shades of Black has grown from a small presentation of local black culture to a showcase of black culture and talent from around the region.
“The show in itself is just light-years ahead of where it used to be. I would argue it’s one of the most anticipated cultural shows here at U of I and perhaps on the Palouse,” Vengesayi said. “It’s grown outside of the Palouse as well, and 15 years ago nobody would have told you that one of the biggest culture showcases comes out of Idaho.”
Vengesayi said there is something in the show for everybody to enjoy as long as they attend with an open mind and realistic expectations.
“Some people go and like the entire show, some people only like part of the show … but if you go with an open mind and realistic expectations you will like it,” Vengesayi said. “This is not a Michael Jackson concert, this is not the Super Bowl halftime show. It’s not going to be perfect. These are your friends, these are your classmates … these are people who you see everyday and they’re going to go up on that stage and some of them have never been up there a day in their life.”
Leathia Botello, coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said she is excited to welcome the show back to the university for its 10th anniversary. She said the theme is important this year because it can represent everyone.
“It’s just the different characteristics that make up a person. It is also a little bit more women-centered this year. There are more performers that are all female,” Botello said. “I think it’s a great way to showcase the talent of our students. We have students that are on campus or athletes that are not necessarily in the music department or theatre, but have great talents.”
The event, which takes place in the midst of Black History Month, also helps celebrate and recognize the black community on campus, even though it is a small one, Botello said.
“It is important for people to be exposed to different cultures and learning about them,” Botello said.
Vengesayi said he invites all UI administrators and students to attend the event if they haven’t before.
“You hear about it and how great it is, but you don’t really know until you go there and see it,” he said.
Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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