Penn State Sigmas co-host forum on cultural differences
Though there are multiple minority organizations prevalent on campus, it is sometimes rare to see many interacting in a common place.
During the 2nd annual “Culture Clash,” six different clubs representing various cultures and ethnicities gathered in Willard to discuss topics from the definition of race to personal experiences with discrimination.
The idea originated from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., member, Kendall Brown (senior-sociology). He wanted to create a forum for the different organizations to come together and understand that “we all have issues that divide us,” said Brown.
Students from the Asian Pacific American Caucus, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., the Caribbean Student Association, the Latino Caucus, the Black Caucus and the Turkish Student Association were free to ask questions to a panel of seven multicultural students.
The panel, comprised of first generation Americans and students born in different countries, all offered very different views and experiences from their unique respective countries.
The discussion was moderated by Donnique Corke (junior-elementary education) and William Dennis (senior-energy, business and finance), as they presented questions and topics to the panel. They then opened the topics to the audience.
The discussion immediately became heated as the panel and the audience all discussed the issue of race superiority and the circle of poverty for minorities in the U.S. The topics then moved to discrimination, specifically within their own racial and ethnic groups.
“There’s a thin line between being proud of the country that you’re from and bashing another country,” said panel member Madubuike Okafor (senior-bioengineering).
The group also discussed the index cards they were asked to write in the beginning of the event, stating the group that they identify with and the different stereotypes that go along with that group.
“A lot of people think Puerto Ricans are the best dancers — which they are,” said Jon Ramirez (graduate-human resources and employment relations), exhibiting laughter from the crowd.
But the discussion quickly led to more serious topics. When asked who should be fighting the battle of racism, the group presented conflicting views.
While Okafor said that it’s important to “pick your battles” and not always come off so strong, panel member Paul John thought that it is everyone’s duty to stand up for the discrimination that they hear.
“I have a problem with letting things go,” said John (senior-political science). “The more we let things go, the more we allow it to happen.”
After the discussion, guest speaker Denise Hinds-Zaami, who is the diversity advocate for multiple Penn State campuses, spoke to the crowd about the importance of traveling, embracing differences and her own culture clashes throughout her life.
“People always seem to find ways to distinguish themselves from other people,” Hinds-Zaami said. “Differences are fine, as long as we don’t use them for hate.”