Kalamazoo, MI
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Student Life

Cultural Awareness Troupe Celebrates 21 Years

Junior Honey Sumon performs during the Cultural Awareness Troupe’s 21st annual event. (Photo courtesy of OSI)

Kalamazoo College’s BSO hosted their 21st annual Cultural Awareness Troupe (C.A.T) last Friday and Saturday.

“The goal of C.A.T was to highlight the idea of Black resilience and the ability to create something beautiful out of pain and adversity,” C.A.T director Sarah Bragg ‘17 said.

Through song, dance, and poem, BSO was able to speak about Black culture and expose many misconceptions.

Kaitlyn Courtenay ‘17 discussed the strength that African American women must have in order to grow up and succeed in America as a minority faced with adversity.

“It’s one thing to look at a Black woman, it’s another thing to see her in your reflection,” Courtenay said.

She stated that while some may try to copy the Black woman, one could never be the blueprint. It has become very mainstream for celebrities to adopt characteristics of African Americans and Blacks, as Courtenay pointed out.

“Many people, such as Kylie Jenner, are getting bigger lips and it is clear that they may be trying to look like African Americans and Blacks,” Courtenay said.

She was moved to recite her poem due to this common occurrence of white people taking African American and Black traits and making them their own.

A few students discussed their own personal struggles they encountered growing up.  Through songs and poems, their stories came alive. They shared the comfort their mothers provided them in reassuring them of their worth.

“I am unapologetically Black and I set fire to your cyclical stereotypes,” Aunye Scott-Anderson ‘18 said.

Scott-Anderson demonstrated the ways people criticize Blacks for their skin tone or the way they act, but made the point that their history has made them strong and steadfast.

Kaitlyn Courtenay ‘17, Quincy Crosby ‘17, Adreanna Grillier ‘18, Mele Makalo ‘15, and Ronnie Russell ‘17 performed a song in which they repeated the phrase “I am a conqueror.” This brought to light the fact that many people of color possess the ability to overcome because of struggles pertaining to their culture.

Erin Byrd ‘17 was an audience member at the event.

“I really felt C.A.T spoke to many pressing issues and I am glad BSO set out to address them,” Byrd said.

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Cultural Awareness Troupe Celebrates 21 Years