Every year the Caribbean and African Students Association (CASA) hosts their CASA Weekend in which we take a weekend to remember and share our Caribbean and African identities with the Clark Community. This year was slightly different in that the weekend began with a picture campaign in Red Square on the Friday afternoon (15TH April). The campaign – which was the brainchild of CASA Community Chair Blessing Ojini – was one in which we as the Caribbean and Africans aimed to debunk common stereotypes that people have about our respective homes. Important to note here is that the stereotypes we debunked were taken from an anonymous survey carried out on the Clark campus. Hence, what was displayed in Red Square was a representation of what Clarkies think of Africans and Caribbean’s.
Both Blessing and CASA President Adwoa Anno shared with me that they were happy with the turnout and the number of people who stopped by Red Square to take time to read the stereotypes and the “debunks.” When I asked Blessing why the picture campaign was so important to her, she noted that Clark is said to be a diverse and accepting campus but the survey and the experiences of fellow Caribbean’s and Africans showed that this may not necessarily be the case. The campaign was in essence CASA making a conscious effort to educate the Clark Community of the places we all call home and that we are proud to represent. The full compilation of the stereotypes debunked will be available on the CASA Facebook page by the end of semester for anyone to go through. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1101628426531375/ )
The second, more traditional part of CASA Weekend was the CASA Dinner. The turnout for the event was amazing with it reaching capacity two days before the event itself. The theme of the dinner was, “ROOTS: Remembering Our Own Traditions.” CASA President Adwoa noted that the theme for her was important because as Africans and Caribbean’s living in the USA, it is very easy to be caught up in the American culture and forget some of our own traditions. For her and for many CASA members, the dinner was a chance to not only remember our traditions, but also to share them with the non–Caribbean and Africans present at the dinner. It was also important for many of the people at the dinner, because as Africans and Caribbean’s we are naturally very social people and that aspect of our culture gets lost in the day-to-day bustle of the day. Being able to take an evening to socialize was important to us all.
The dinner included dance performances from a group of girls from the Boys and Girls Club, Clarks own ADDA (African Diaspora Dance Association), as well the traditional fashion show which was a two category event. The first category of the fashion show was traditional wear, and the second was modern wear. Pictures of the dinner and the fashion show will also be available on the CASA Facebook Page. The CASA Caribbean Representative Kaiomi Inniss noted, “CASA weekend/dinner was one of the best events I’ve attended thus far at Clark simply because I felt like I was connected and my culture was represented accurately.”
The entire CASA E-Board would like to thank all that came and we hope to see you at many more CASA Events. Part 2 will cover the Graduate African and Caribbean Identity Night was held on the 22nd of April.
-Ashleigh (CASA E-Board, Cultural Committee)