UT African American Culture Committee Highlights Black Talent
Nov 17, 2023

UT African American Culture Committee Highlights Black Talent

Reporting Texas TV

AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas African American Culture Committee (AACC) hosted its annual Culture Shock at Hogg Auditorium on Nov. 8.

Performers took the stage in a Renaissance-themed talent show that centered on promoting Black culture. The show included five acts: two singers, a rapper, a poet and a Christian worship group.

“I feel like Culture Shock is an event that everybody can release what they want to release,” event coordinator Fikayomi Johnson said. “It’s really just a place where anybody can release any emotions, any culture.”

The talent show was the AACC’s first event in Hogg Auditorium since 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic and the facility’s two-year renovation prevented the committee from using the space until now.  AACC chair and Culture Shock host Kylan Duncan said the new auditorium had everything the committee needed for Culture Shock to run properly.

While anyone could participate in the show, the AACC’s goal for the event was to encourage the audience to engage with Black culture and talent. This includes learning about music, dances and other traditions important to the Black community. Only 5.3% of UT’s students are Black, so Duncan said the AACC tries to promote its identity whenever necessary.

“Mainly through spreading our image through our campus because we try to rep Black culture as much as possible,” Duncan said.

The AACC holds events throughout the school year to attract newcomers, which include a pool party, a Black History Month celebration and a joint event with the Asian American Culture and Mexican/American Culture committees to try foods from different diasporas. The committee hopes that people who attend events like Culture Shock will want to learn more about the organization.

“The type of acts they bring on. It just elicits the opportunity to ask questions, to learn more,” said Staci Rende, AACC’s campus events and entertainment advisor.

Kenedi Houston (second from left) leads a line dance during one of the Culture Shock audience activities at the Hogg Auditorium in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 8, 2023. (Robert Gonsoulin/Reporting Texas TV)

Event hosts invited some attendees on stage between acts to introduce themselves and participate in activities like karaoke and dancing. Johnson, the event coordinator, won both the fashion show as the best-dressed and the group dance battle for the best moves.

“We want people to get engaged as much as possible. Even though we had talent, we’re always just thinking of ways to include people in the show,” Duncan said.

Audience member Kenedi Houston participated in multiple competitions. She said the event was all about having fun.

“I think Culture Shock is a really safe space for Black talent to showcase their skills, so I was just really excited to be a part of it,” Houston said.

The AACC meets on Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m. at the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center (WCP) in room 2.120.