UNC Charlotte is a diverse university. Walk into any classroom or down any path and students, professors and faculty of all different nationalities can be spotted. However, walking among this already diverse group are diverse individuals.
The Caribbean population of UNC Charlotte is a unique hybrid of African, Asian, European and Hispanic cultures. Its background is often misunderstood, but UNC Charlotte’s Caribbean Connection hopes that through its events like last week’s “Caribbean Listening Lounge,” it will be able end the misconceptions about this group of islands in the Atlantic.
“The Caribbean is more than Bob Marley and dreadlocks,” said Caribbean Connection Secretary Jamal Potter. Potter and fellow Caribbean Connection members proved this with their play list and slide show at their event in Norm’s in the Student Union’s. Their event allowed students to listen to music from each of the Caribbean’s five major music genres and learn facts about Caribbean culture and celebrities.
Dance hall, reggae, rocksteady, ska and soca music played while students shot pool, talked to members of Caribbean Connection and watched the Caribbean culture slide show. Caribbean celebrities and famous Americans of Caribbean descent like Nicki Minaj, Usain Bolt and Tyson Beckford were projected against the wall of Norm’s. along with facts about the nations of the Caribbean.
“We want to familiarize students with Caribbean roots,” said Potter. “It’s not only Jamaica and Haiti. It’s one of the original melting pots of the world.”
In the past, members of the organization have been asked questions like whether or not they have internet, if they “all wear grass skirts,” and how the island stays afloat. Members hope the exposure to Caribbean culture, history and music will help end UNC Charlotte’s Caribbean apathy.
Another goal of Caribbean Connections is to teach UNC Charlotte’s students the many ethnicities that make up the Caribbean. Descendants of the Caribbean can be a blend of any of the major races of the world. They most often include but are not limited to people of African, Asian, South or Central American and West Indian descent. This wide variety of heritage makes the idea of ethnicity nearly pointless for those who live on the islands.
Caribbean Connection Vice President Channelle Chang feels that UNC Charlotte and the U.S. as a whole could learn a lesson from this “melting pot.” “In the Caribbean, there is no distinguishing between Asian, African, Caucasian, West Indian, etc.,” explained Chang. “We are all Caribbean.”
Caribbean Connection plans on having future events similar to its Caribbean Listening Lounge and encourages students to attend their first group meeting Sept. 2 in Student Union Room 263 at 5 p.m. Future events hosted by Caribbean Connection will incorporate traditional Caribbean dance lessons.