Dance team reconsiders decision to change culturally meaningful name | New
On July 9, the former presidents of Kuumba Beatz, a hip-hop dance team at LMU, announced in a Instagram post that the crew name would be changed to “The Kollective” indicating that this decision came after “reflecting as a crew and having conversations with members of our LMU community”.
The current presidents, double major in junior dance and psychology Shelby Lawrence and major in junior dance Tatum Fouts, have now reversed the name change.
The word “kuumba” comes from the Swahili language, a indigenous language of Africa spoken in particular in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Eastern Zaire. As mentioned in the post, the term translates to “creativity»And also represents the sixth day of Kwanzaa.
“When our crew was founded, it was representative of [African] Cultural significance. Over time the demographics of the crew have changed, ”they said. As a result of this change, “the personal identities of the crew no longer corresponded to African traditions or practices”.
The post concluded by saying that the “K” in “Kolective” would honor the story of the crew. “We look forward to discovering this new chapter and hosting fall auditions in person and continuing the legacy of the team. [this year],” they said.
As of September 14, the message announcing the crew’s name change had received 24 comments expressing confusion and opposition to the decision because of its cultural and historical implications.
Instagram user rviblu’s most liked comment said, “Instead of erasing the cultural significance of the dances that your members (who [I] I guess they don’t line up with the cultures they mimic) don’t line up with, how about using the name Kuumba to learn about the moves you mimic with your dancing.
Pointing to the African roots of the dance style that flourished in the United States and around the world, the user said, “Don’t dance in styles that don’t resonate with all of you, especially if you can’t even keep the name to honor those cultures. Make a different band.
Amber Lapree Waterford, a 2010 alumnus and 2009-2010 former president of Kuumba Beatz, spoke to Loyolan about her reaction to the announcement.
“I was disappointed,” said Waterford. “[Kuumba Beatz] was created by individuals who wanted to see a dance group more oriented towards the African side of dance… When it comes to the fundamentals of dance, everyone generally has a very Eurocentric vision… [so] making sure there was an accurate representation within the dance community to represent, you know, people of color, but, more specifically, African Americans or blacks… that’s a big part of why [Kuumba] was created, ”she said.
Agreeing with many comments on the post, Waterford felt that creating another dance team was a better alternative than changing the name of an existing dance team. She encourages students to think about what it means to identify with an organization. “And if you still don’t identify with the organization you belong to, that’s okay… there is another one to be a part of,” she said.
However, Waterford was confused by the premise of the name change altogether. “To be quite frank, Kuumba has always been inclusive in the sense that you don’t have to identify yourself as Black or African American. It’s for everyone, ”she said.
The crew co-chairs canceled the name change to another Instagram post August 16. Thanking the community for the comments received on their previous post, they said: “We did not knowingly intend any form of cultural erasure and we sincerely apologize to those we have offended.”
The post also said they were hosting a town hall “to advance conversations about naming, implicit biases, cultural appropriation and erasure as it relates to LMU’s Hip Hop teams.” The Director of the Office of Black Student Services Jeffrey Dolliole and associate professor and president of the dance department Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo will help organize the discussion.
Contacted by the Loyolans, the current presidents of Kuumba Beatz initially agreed to speak to the Loyolans, but then declined to comment publicly until town hall at an unannounced later date.
While Waterford was relieved to see the name Kuumba Beatz restored, “there is still a lot of work to be done,” she said. “Keep the name? Great. Keep our history? Great. But that’s not enough because, as many comments have said… the announcement of the name change showed this right and privilege.
Waterford is optimistic that the team is working with Dolliole. “[He] was at LMU when I was at LMU and he’s a wonderful human being… I know the job he does is great, ”she said.
Coming out of the summer’s events, Waterford hopes that conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure continue, not only within the dance community, but for all members of the LMU community. “Learning from it now, having conversations now, making the adjustments now and getting back to the roots of Kuumba Beatz is very important,” she said.
“Make your, I would say, student responsibility, especially at [the] University [where] one of their mission statements is the education of the whole person. This is the perfect opportunity to dive into it … So if it just doesn’t fit, that’s okay. It’s good. There is no bad blood. Just create something of your own and keep that in mind for the future, so that you don’t encounter that… even after college life, because it’s the real world. This is all just a taste, ”said Waterford.