‘Mix of Melanin’ remixes former student showcase

Black Student Union Vice President Sparkle Watts organized the showcase to unite communities



Sparkle Watts, vice president of the Black Student Union, says she was inspired to organize “Mix of Melanin” to help fill the space left after a previous event, “Shades of Black” was moved to a different state.

ANNA YOUNG, Evergreen reporter

The cross-university Shades of Black Show, which last occurred in 2017, will return this year in spirit as Mix of Melanin, a talent performance open to all students.

Hosted by the Black Student Union, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Student Entertainment Board, the showcase will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 7 in Daggy Hall.

BSU Vice President Sparkle Watts decided to organize the event after the Shades of Black Show ended three years ago. Aside from inviting University of Idaho, Watts also extended invitations to University of Washington and University of Portland.

“I really was feeling like our communities were missing the event,” she said. “Missing that time when we were all able to just collaborate and celebrate.”

All talents are welcome, Watts said, including poetry, singing and dancing. She said performers may also talk about their organization, and Greek chapters can do their “stroll” — a line dance-esque routine the members perform.

Watts said she enjoyed the Shades of Black Show when it was around, attending her first semester as a freshman and performing with Krimson Kouture her second semester. Her passion for the event is what inspired her to bring it back.

“I just remember feeling really good and happy to see the celebration of diversity with everybody together,” she said.

Liuel Tibebe, a second-year psychology major, will be performing at Mix of Melanin, doing both an original rap and a cover of Jhene Aiko’s “Triggered.”

“I was going into it thinking that it’s a good opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and express myself to a large audience,” he said. “I guess in a way to get a foot in the door as far as starting a career in music.”

Tibebe said he performed for the first time at the Visionaries Inspiring Black Empowered Students Conference a few weeks ago. He said he saw the experience as enjoyable and a moment of growth, since he is a longtime writer and wants to start sharing his creative work.

Despite some stage fright, Tibebe said he believes live performance is both the best way to break into the music industry and the best way to connect with the audience.

“I mean truthfully, that’s what the music is meant to be, right?” he said. “You get to share your life experience with other people and hopefully that helps them with what they’re going through.”

Watts said the event helps bring the communities of WSU together to celebrate diverse people and talents. While BSU and its umbrella organizations have frequent meetings to discuss life as a student of color on campus, she said she wanted an event free of the discomfort inherent to those discussions.

“Coming to this university as a student of color affects you in a lot of ways that people can’t really relate to if they’re not in your situation,” she said. “On a daily basis I think we deal with a lot of struggles … I just felt like that event was a way we could all come together and be in the same space for once.”