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CSA Pageant shines light on Caribbean cultures

by Breonnah Colón -Lifestyles Editor
Wed, Mar 28th 2018 12:00 am

The first week coming back from spring break is always a rough integration period because despite having a whole week off, students have to pick back up where they left off, as if no time has passed at all. If you were fortunate enough to travel to a different place or just happy to have some down time, coming back to school is not exactly the most exciting prospect. 

However, The College at Brockport’s Caribbean Student Association offered students something to look forward to with its “CSA week,” a week full of fun and unique events aimed not only at sharing information about different Caribbean islands, but also offering students a chance to prolong the dreaded daily routine of college life.

Beginning on Monday, March 19 and lasting all the way through Saturday, March 24, CSA week offered multiple chances to collaborate with different clubs, faculty and students. The week ended with the biggest event of all, CSA’s annual beauty pageant. 

Each year, the club searches for Mr. and Mrs. CSA in students across campus who encapsulate the essence of Caribbean culture and the beauty of its unique heritages. Being an open pageant, students need neither be part of the club or share a Caribbean background. The purpose of the pageant is not to isolate, but rather to be inclusive and allow for an educational and fun opportunity for students to come together and learn something they wouldn’t have otherwise known. Students from all different backgrounds and class rankings participated in this year’s pageant, including last year’s Mr. and Mrs. CSA who had the honor of crowing the pageant winners. 

The theme of this year’s pageant was Platinum Reign, with everything from the decor to the E-board’s dress code dazzling the audience with its shimmering colors. Even the event’s menu played into the theme with food options such as supreme brown stew, royal rice and peas, and monarchy mac and cheese. With different Caribbean music playing throughout the night, the pageant was full of diverse culture. 

Vice President Danique Shallow explained the inspiration behind the theme was the Miss Universe Pageant, a large scale beauty pageant known across the globe for its glitz and glam.

“The idea of Platinum Reign was brainstormed by myself and [President Aaliyah Johnson],” Shallow said. “We took the idea to the eboard and we all agreed we wanted things to be shiny and elegant, sort of like Miss Universe.”

Five contestants participated this year, three women and two men, each representing a unique Caribbean island in their own way. The Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were all featured this year; five completely different islands left their mark on the audience as their representatives performed throughout the night. 

Shallow explained the countries represented were chosen after deep consideration. With so many different islands making up the Caribbean, it’s easy for more commonly known countries to be highlighted. 

For this reason, CSA worked to introduce countries which had not been represented in the past, introducing a host of Spanish speaking Caribbean islands in addition to more traditionally known islands like the Bahamas, which many people think of when the Caribbean is mentioned.

“If we continue to only educate our members and the Brockport Community about the caribbean countries that everyone knows about, like Jamiaca or Trinidad, we would be negating our entire mission,” Shallow said. “Though some of us are from popular caribbean countries, we wanted to [highlight other countries] because they are just as important and beautiful.”

In order to avoid any bias, CSA brought in judges from outside the club. Chief Diversity Officer for the college Cephas Archie, Associate Professor of African American Studies Thomas Douglass, and Brockport Student Government Treasurer Chantelle Nasri were the chosen figures to decide the winners. Each judge had a set rubric and the opportunity to ask contestants one question each, pertaining either to their country in general or to a specific aspect of their personality and mindset as a participant in the pageant. 

This year’s pageant winners were  sophomore, Daniel Jimenez representing the Dominican Republic for Mr. CSA and Jamilla Ollivierre representing Grenada for Mrs. CSA. Jimenez was proud to have the opportunity to introduce the island he was born and raised on to a community where people of Hispanic descent make up only a small portion of the population.

“This experience taught me about educating others on my culture, given that Dominicans are a minority on campus,” Jimenez wrote in an email. “It opened my eyes to [what different Caribbean cultures have in common] and how the subtitles of said cultures surround us everyday.”

 As the two were crowned, the spectacle came to a close, leaving students with an air of witnessing a royal coronation. 

 

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