EBONI’s event raises funds for undocumented Emerson staff

Funds from a semi-formal gala to celebrate Black History Month will go towards renewing Temporary Protected Status, for undocumented Emerson service workers.

The second annual Black Rainbow Ball on Saturday, Feb. 17 is hosted by the cultural organization Emerson’s Black Organization With Natural Interest, according to its Facebook event page. The fundraising idea came from the immigration cultural organization, Understanding National Immigration Through Education.

Laura Londoño, president of UNITE, said she spoke to Aliyah Browne, president of EBONI, about the cause. Browne then decided the minimum $5 entrance donations would go towards the re-registration application of TPS, Londoño said in an interview. Browne was not available for comment before the time of publication.

TPS is a program that allows people from certain countries to gain temporary immigration status. Haitians and Salvadorans with TPS have until March 19 to submit their forms so they can continue to legally stay in this country. The renewal costs $495 in addition to potential legal fees.

Londoño said it can be difficult for workers with low salaries to pay for the expensive renewal fees.

Evelyn Hernandez, a member of UNITE, said she worked hard to pay for the TPS reapplication for a Salvadoran family member. She said this family member had other bills to worry about, and this additional fee was unexpected.

“$495 plus the [legal] fees is not easy to raise,” she said. “Even if you have a job, it is an expense that you did not think about.”

Other campus cultural organizations have united with EBONI’s Ball for this cause, including Emerson Alliance Of Gays Lesbians And Everyone, Asian Students for Intercultural Awareness, and Amigos.

“As cultural groups, we shouldn’t have to treat our matters separately, and by being together, we can accomplish a lot more,” Carolina Gonzalez, co-president of Amigos, said. “If we want to see change in the Emerson community, it’s important that we’re all part of that change, and we all have to be allies for one another.”

Last year, the Black Rainbow Ball fundraising went to The Theater Offensive’s True Colors youth theater program.  

The ball will start at 6:30 p.m. at the W Boston Hotel and Residences. There will be food, music, and dancing. Drag performer Neon Calypso will host the show and YouTuber Kat Blaque will give a keynote address.

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