Plattsburgh State’s Blank Onyx: The Black Student Union will celebrate its true colors when it hosts its annual Black Ball tonight in the Warren Ballrooms of the Angell College Center.
Senior English literature major and Blank Onyx president Ray Robinson said Black Ball is the club’s annual banquet, which is held at the end of Black History Month.
In addition to the banquet-style event, each year, the club crowns a new Mr. and Ms. BSU during the pageant portion of the event.
“The banquet essentially revolves around the pageant contestants we have,” Robinson said. “[The winners] will join the board and become a part of our Black Onyx family.”
Junior human development and family relations major and Black Onyx vice president Maieja Williams said pageant contestants would answer questions, give a small speech and contribute to a talent portion.
“They can do whatever they like,” Williams said. “They can sing, they can dance, they can do a poem. It’s really whatever they choose.”
This year’s theme is the Met Gala, and the BSU board will be dressed in all red. Guests are encouraged to dress up and celebrate Black History Month.
Robinson said over 110 PSUC students and about 10 faculty members attended last year’s Black Ball.
Williams was crowned Ms. BSU last year, along with their current public relations manager Gene Copeland as Mr. BSU. Both students were elected onto the Black Onyx board after they won. Williams described the Black Ball pageant as inspiring.
“It makes you come out of your comfort zone to do things you don’t normally do, so I think the pageant is a really good thing,” Williams said.
While each board members contributes equally to the planning of Black Ball, club members Stephanie Ramirez and Jadae Argro are in charge of decorations this year.
Argro said Black Onyx has been planning the event for four months. She and Ramirez will make all the decorations by hand, creating red and white bouquets as table centerpieces.
“We also would have pictures of black people who have had a big impact in the black community, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and so on,” Argro said.
Robinson said his favorite part about Black Ball is watching the pageant contestants.
“[It’s] essentially them expressing their own version of their blackness,” Robinson said. “Blackness varies, and we all have different experiences, so it’s nice to see what that person’s perspective is and how they deal with it.”
When helping to plan Black Ball, Argro said putting in the work from scratch is her favorite part, but the crowning of Mr. and Ms. BSU is the event’s highlight.
“The best part is crowning the king and queen [and] picking the perfect face for the Black Student Union,” Argro said.
Doors open for the event at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for Student Association members are $7, while non-SA member tickets are $8.
Argro said she hopes Black Ball teaches the black students on campus to embrace their culture.
“Embrace the skin you walk in every day,” Argro said. “We are powerful, we have a voice and we can be whatever we want to be, even if it’s as simple as winning a pageant.”
Email Emma Vallelunga at firstname.lastname@example.org