Laney College celebrates culture, community, cuisine

Volunteers set up a table of soul food to celebrate the closing of Black History Month on Feb. 27, 2020, at Laney College campus in Oakland, Calif. The event was sponsored by the Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC) and the Black Student Union (BSU). (Ryan Barba/The Citizen)

By Tyler Black, Staff Writer

The Laney College quad was filled with people drawn by the aromas wafting from a long white table adorned with shining metal pans. The hot sun beat down on the crowd, causing glare and bringing attention to the delicious food that lays underneath it. The smell is familiar and warm, like the sun and southern comfort that comes along with the food on this unusually hot day.

Corn bread, chicken wings, green beans, and macaroni and cheese sit on a paper plate distributed by volunteers. (Tyler Black/The Citizen)

Students of all backgrounds waited for fried chicken, green beans, macaroni and cheese, as well as with the classic cornbread that brings this feast full circle. Food does truly bring people together. There’s no better way to connect with a community than to feed that community.

The history behind the food is not so delicious. The traditional foods African-American people grew up eating consists of scraps of slave masters. For instance, chitterlings: chitterlings are a popular dish made from animal intestines — imagine the struggle to find animal intestines as delicious. Fried foods are able to stay out without refrigeration, greens you can leave out for a while and feed a whole family, mac and cheese took the bare essentials and made them golden. These are just a couple of examples of how food from struggle became the food of unity.

In celebration of Black History Month, students were invited to experience some culturally black food and the history behind it. The Black Student Union (BSU) and the Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC) combined efforts to bring students together for this celebration. The line was long and winding and the music set the scene for the party vibe.

The event with BSU has been happening annually at Laney. ASLC President Terance Williams was proud of the turnout.

“We wanted to do something to end Black History Month, right. So we said ‘why not do a party and connect with our culinary department, and have some soul food?’”

Students and community members wait patiently in the the line for food, which snakes across the campus quad. (Ryan Barba/The Citizen)

Sarah Hilton, the acting president of the Laney BSU, is also a senator on the ASLC.

Hilton spoke about what the BSU and ASLC do for students and why they are important to Laney’s community. She described how the event was another student-centered celebration intended to bring students together.

“Immediate resources and food pantries for students — we are doing all of that —  students don’t have to worry about their meals, they can worry about their education and actually finish these two-year programs,” Hilton said.

With this event and others like it, the BSU and ASLC demonstrate how a sense of community molds Laney and brings students together. The BSU might be a black student organization, but it is inclusive to all.