Office Of Multicultural Affairs

The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) was established in 2002 to support the College’s efforts to attract, recruit, and serve both students of color and international students. Our mission is to create and sustain an environment that encourages and embraces the contributions of people from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


My name is Erin Marie Muschette and I am multiracial. Looking at me, it is hard to determine my ethnicity, which has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. It is obvious that I am neither fully white, nor fully black, and I am too light-skinned to only be mulatto, as such, people stare at me confused and curious. Nevertheless, the staring does not bother me because I enjoy being different. The fact that people are unable to determine my ethnicity is a blessing because it allows me to see people's true views about diversity. This is also a curse because people who do not know my background engage in prejudiced conversations around me without even realizing it affects me.

I am proud to be Black, White, Portuguese, Cape Verdean, Arawak Indian, Jamaican and French-Canadian. Although I am not of Irish decent, I have an Irish first name. My skin complexion is light tan, and I have hazel eyes. I am neither dark-skinned-which makes it not as easy to point me out-nor am I completely pale-resembling many of the students here on campus. For these reasons, it is easy for me to blend in on a predominately white campus such as Assumption. I simply fade into the background.

The fact that I am multiracial raises another issue: many people expect me to identify with a specific race. I do not speak Cape Verdean-Creole or Portuguese so it is often difficult to identify with that part of my identity. Yet, if I have white friends or date white men, then I am labeled as acting white or trying to be white. Conversely, if I have black friends or date black men, then I am labeled as acting black or trying to be black. I did not know it was possible to act out who I am. I thought I was just being myself. How am I supposed to choose to identify with only one part of who I am?

My family is extremely diverse and we see people for who they are, not based on their skin color. That is the kind of atmosphere I am accustomed to. This is partly the reason why my transition into college here at Assumption was harder than I expected. Back at home, an hour away in Lynn, Mass., your character, your compassion for others, and your work ethic are what defines you, but here at Assumption many people judge you based on your skin color without getting to know you as a person. This prevents people from building healthy relationships because they are unable to see beyond race and color lines. Lynn is a very diverse city. I would be lying if I said Lynn does not have problems of its own, but it is a completely different environment than Assumption. People are very accepting in Lynn, and unfortunately that is not the case here at Assumption. I have come to realize that before attending college, I was living in a bubble. I expected everywhere I went to be just as diverse as both my family and the city in which I grew up. I realize that in life we will meet people with whom we do not share values and beliefs, but more importantly, we should be willing to learn from such experiences.

Growing up with such a diverse background has given me a strong sense of cultural awareness, as well as sensitivity towards topics of race and race relations. I have learned that it is offensive to be ignorant, and we can only improve cultural understanding through open, honest conversations. A lot of people are skeptical to ask questions regarding race and race relations, but it is better to ask questions and gain accurate knowledge about different cultures than to make incorrect assumptions about people of diverse backgrounds.

I have Black, White, Hispanic and multiracial friends. I do not make friends based on race, so it does not matter to me what they look like or how they talk. I personally love hearing different accents. My best friend is Laotian, and by being around her I was able to experience her culture. I have asked her numerous questions about her culture and have even learned a few words in Lao, the official Laotian language. I am comfortable in my own skin and am perfectly fine with the people I associate with or choose to date. The race of the people with whom I choose to surround myself with should not be an issue to anyone but me. I enjoy people's company because of their personality and not because of their skin color.

In today's society, and here at Assumption, many people are not accepting of cultures different from their own. It could be that some people have old-fashioned parents or ideals, but that does not justify ignorant thoughts or actions. In the ALANA Network, we work to promote diversity. Diversity should bring people together, not separate them. We must embrace different cultures in order to gain a better understanding of others. This way we will learn why people look, act, speak or dress a certain way, and such understanding will ultimately make all people feel comfortable and accepted. I am sure we can all agree that there is no better feeling than to be comfortable in our own skin and be accepted for who we are as human beings.

Erin Marie Muschette'10

Member At Large, ALANA Network

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