by Cheryl Cumings
Let’s be honest. In this context of diversity, when we hear the word “culture,” so many people often think that word only refers to people of color and stop reading, stop listening and disengage. Of course, that’s wrong because culture is custom, heritage, tradition, lifestyle, values, beliefs, mores and habits. This means that everyone has a culture or cultures in their life.
A significant part of my cultural background is Guyanese, West Indian and African American. My grandmother was someone who taught me about my culture. She was a seamstress.
As a child I remember her always insisting that we had the right to do and to go anywhere we wanted. There were times when someone would stop by our house for a bite to eat or a place to stay. She always gave what she could, and sometimes a request from someone to stay one night would turn into a few weeks. When she saw someone being mistreated or discriminated against, she spoke up.
While in school in Guyana, a film company came and was selecting children to be part of a movie. My grandmother noticed that they were selecting only Caucasians or light-skinned Blacks. I don’t fit in those categories and knew I wasn’t going to be selected. I heard her speaking with the person making the selections and I heard her telling him that he had to choose children from all backgrounds. The immediate impact was that my friend and I were both selected to be in the movie.
Once I became blind, I’ve found myself challenged in many ways. As I reach for the courage to act, I often remember my grandmother and draw on her examples to raise my hand, to speak up and to move forward.
In the past, the Multicultural Affairs Committee has focused on providing informational sessions and trainings, primarily at the convention. However, as the community calls have become part of ACB, MCAC will take advantage of this shift in ACB’s culture and offer programs throughout the year. MCAC has partnered with state chapters, special-interest affiliates and affiliates to present programs, and we plan to build on this tradition. I also invite anyone who has an idea that will help ACB to advance its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals and to become a more welcoming and inclusive organization to reach out to me or any member of MCAC.
Phone: (617) 731-5998
Email: [email protected]