A series of Boston College student organizations gave a presentation discussing racial and cultural misunderstandings and hardships appropriately named “Please Don’t Call Me That” on November 18th, 2010.  Students used a variety of presentation methods such as: PowerPoint, humorous theatrical performances, and reflections on personal experiences. Among the groups represented were: the Campus School, the African Student Association, the Cape Verdean Student Association, Asian Caucus, Organization of Latin American Affairs, Society of Native Americans, and Black Student Forum.

The presentation discussed the common use of derogatory language, which is hurtful and is said with little mindfulness about the historical context or meaning. Student representatives spoke about cultural misunderstandings. For example, The ASA (African Student Association) performed a theatrical skit demonstrating the misrepresentation and stereotypes of African culture. Often African immigrants are referred to in terms such as “off the boat”, “Lion King” or “Kunta Kinte”. Another misunderstanding about them is that they bathe using elephant trunks. SNAP (Society of Native Americans) also exposed the misrepresentation of indigenous people, especially by the media. For example, in Disney’s Peter Pan, Native Americans are depicted in a primitive fashion as “animal-like” and are referred to as “reds”. In the clip shown, a song about the Native Americans explains they were unintelligent before being educated by white men. In reality, there are several tribes and not all Native Americans live in tepees, or chant, or carry weapons. They should not be generalized as such.

I am glad I attended this event because it taught me a great deal about many different cultures and their tribulations. It made me become more cultural competent, which is particularly helpful in the health care field as my patients will be of various backgrounds. Discussions on race and culture are very enlightening because by understanding each other we become more sensible to other cultures and bring all people regardless of age, religion, sex, race, social standing, disabilities, sexual orientation, or veteran status together as one.

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