Hidden voices being heard

By Abigail Keefe
November 6, 2003

Dear Minority Student,

Let’s face it: Cabrini isn’t the most diverse campus in the college community. It’s not exactly a microcosm of the outside world. It’s a sheltered environment, in which one can feel out-numbered. The college does try to add a little diversity with various minority-based groups like Ethnic Student Alliance. But is it enough?

How much can you really learn in a classroom? Cabrini has a reputation for its hands-on approach. But that field work seems to only apply to academic pursuits. There are numerous events that just dip into the culture of minorities but it’s never in-depth enough to grasp all aspects of said culture. No one event is capable of that feat, but still is that enough?

It seems everywhere we go, as minorities we are representing our culture even if the individual is vastly different from the perpetuated stereotypes. We know that the people we associate with on campus are not the only windows into minority cultures. Just because one African American student wears ‘wave caps’ and Timbaland boots, doesn’t mean the whole of that community does. But that’s really all we see, isn’t it?

There’s an emulation of minority cultures on campus. Often, in the world outside of Cabrini’s soil, it is of the worst possible realities: Gang bangers, drug dealers, crooks-using Hip Hop as a vehicle to blanket the world with this negativity. The Hip Hop culture is not just about African Americans. And not all African Americans are about the Hip Hop culture. But it seems that way here on campus. So many other stereotypes fester on campus about other minorities. But what is being done to stop these stereotypes?

I started to ask “Are minorities being represented to the full extent of our cultures on campus?” My answer was no. And I wanted to say that Cabrini is responsible for that lack of presentation. But before I put my foot in my mouth, or unnecessarily ruffled some feathers, I realized that such responsibilities also fall on the shoulders of the minorities themselves.

Let me tackle a stereotype common to my culture: African Americans are loud, and obnoxious. This is not true of all of us. So wouldn’t it be a dream come true if some of us stop screaming at the top of our lungs to be heard or whining about affirmative action when one of us hasn’t the slightest idea what it’s really for? These examples are alive and well on campus–hell, they make folks outside our culture laugh. That’s called perpetuating a stereotype. I’m not laughing.

The above stifles the growth of the African American community. It has nothing to do with whites or other ethnicities; it’s homegrown. And if the majority of African Americans coming to the campus are of this type above, then what image or idea does the campus see as a whole?

So what does this little tangent have to do with equal representation of minorities? Like I said, we represent our cultures everywhere we go. And the responsibility of erasing negative stereotypes rests on our shoulders. Not just blacks but Hispanics and Asians and any other ethnic group that graces the campus. Why can’t one be that positive hands-on experience for other students, instead of stumbling into that predictable rut? I know it’s not going to change overnight. Various clubs are already up to the task, but really it starts with the individual. A single person can drive a group to change.

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Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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