Arts, On Campus

‘Living in Color’ Reflects on Black Identity Through Art

Angus Williams, singer-songwriter and MCAS ’25, assembled a strong combination of artistic conversation and performance pieces in celebration of Black History Month this past Thursday evening. 

Living in Color showcased poetry, dance, gospel, and jazz music through which performers explored tensions within and outside of the Black community. 

Williams, also known by his stage name CARAMEL, opened the show by establishing the showcase’s interactive tone, which persisted throughout the night with the audience’s sustained snapping, clapping, and cheering. 

He stated this was the second year of Living in Color, an event he hopes to make an annual showcase. This year’s Living in Color demonstrated the boundless Black talent existing on Boston College’s campus. He set the stage for a storyboard of Black experiences and raised questions about breaking barriers within our own groups in order to break barriers in our society.

“There’s not a resolution to racism to sexism to ageism to anything that feels that suppresses us as people, but there are ways to cope and ways to improve and build ourselves up with each other,” Williams said during his opening speech. “It’s not just going to end today.”

The first chapter of the show was titled “dissonance” and featured slam poetry performed by Benedita Zalabantu, MCAS ’25, and Alioune Diba, LSEHD ’25. Together, they created a captivating, rhythmic, and powerful recitation about the experience of being in a relationship as Black people, trying to dismantle the stereotypical roles they each face. 

“We’re told not to be the problem when the world is the problem, Black woman,” Zalabantu recited.

This act was followed by a powerful step routine executed by Jaylen Keller, MCAS ’25, and Caitlyn Gibb, LSEHD ’26, accompanied by dark and enigmatic piano chords that further cemented the complex experience of Black identity in today’s world.

Williams’ musical talent shone throughout the performance with a series of songs and musical interludes he performed. His voice and lyrics, coupled with the sound of ethereal violin and an electric bass, left the audience deep in reflection. 

Waaw Waaw BC added another dimension of musicality, when the group took the stage and performed a lively West African drumming routine on the Sabar style drum, which hails from Senegal. 

The “anger” chapter of the performance explained the pain and suffering that comes with Black identity in the world, throughout history and still today. Diba and Zalabantu took the stage again, flooded with red light and emotion, to expound on their emotions to the crowd. Diba explored heart-wrenching ideas of love, failure, and substance abuse. Zalabantu powerfully depicted her experience as a Black woman and what generations of women like her have had to overcome, starting with the battle in the mirror. 

“Being a Black woman is all the healing that I will ever get,” Zalabantu said to conclude the “healing” chapter. 

Dissonance, realization, anger, healing, and continuation of conversation were expressed extraordinarily in Living in Color. These thematic chapters were captured in performance art sure to live in the minds of the BC community for a future of conversation and growth. 

“There were tons of feelings evoked from this performance that Angus put on today, especially the display of Black joy, Black pain, and Black healing, and the progression of the downfalls and upbringings,” Sena Deressa, MCAS ’24, said.

March 6, 2024