Members of the African American Culture Committee promote diversity through events

Lauren Zimmer

The African American Culture Committee knows the importance of making a statement on campus. Members of the AACC hope to promote cultural diversity and bring African and African-American traditions to  campus, working as a sub-committee of Campus Events and Entertainment, known as E+E.     

Clarke Cromartie, undeclared sophomore and AACC officer, said the committee is a welcoming community that connects with individuals from
different backgrounds.     

“The goal is to make [AACC] known on campus,” Cromartie said. “We are just one part of Campus E+E. However, I think everyone wants to be connected to something. We could be that something.”    

AACC has meetings each Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. in the SAC, where members work with officers to determine which volunteer projects and events they want to create. 

“Whatever we showcase is what people are going to think about our culture,” Cromartie said. “We take precautions.”    

Paul Mannie, civil engineering sophomore and AACC officer, explained the significance of promoting cultural identity.    

“I think it’s important to let other people outside of your culture know why you do the things you do in your culture,” Mannie said. “People talk about culture appreciation versus appropriation. We have to not only appreciate other cultures but understand them, because you don’t want to lose yourself based on where you live.”    

Although AACC’s main goal is to promote diversity, Julian Hayes, radio-television-film sophomore and AACC officer, said the committee improves leadership and public speaking skills.    

“I joined AACC because I thought it would be a good leadership opportunity,” Hayes said. “You learn how to speak up, and have your opinion noticed.”

An example of one of AACC’s successful events is Culture Shock, a talent show representing African and African-American culture. This year’s Culture Shock was held in the SAC Auditorium, and YouTube personality Spoken Reasons was the host.     

“The goal of Culture Shock is to connect people — black or non-black — by showcasing black culture to the UT community,” Mannie said.    

Mannie said this year’s Culture Shock has been his favorite event so far because it ran smoothly and new acts were added to the show.

“We had different acts,” Mannie said. “We had dancing, singing, rapping and a fashion show.”        

AACC has also paired up with the Asian American Culture Committee and the Mexican American Culture Committee to create a “Cultural Mixer” that will highlight each culture’s food and activities.     

“The event was created last year by the freshmen group committee, but E+E wants to make it a staple event to get communities together and connect with each other and to showcase each culture,” Mannie said.    

Hayes said cultures are diverse, but it is imperative to include all traditions in events because AACC does not want to exclude anyone.     

“In AACC, we do want to showcase African culture, but it’s not to say our culture is the only thing to be showcased,” Mannie said. “But it’s important to have a spot on this campus.”