A word in defense of “Africa

Parking on campus can be as hard as looking for a spot in Boston the day of a Red Sox Game. One thing every student has in common is the hatred of a particular parking option, and it is always the last option. We will drive around all the other parking lots several times before even considering it an option. The hope is maintained until the slow, upsetting, and mood altering realization is reached– you have to park in Africa.

Do all the feelings we experience when having to park in a parking lot really express how our campus feels about the entire continent of Africa? Are we consciously saying that Africa is a terrible place that we all hate?

I suppose the naming of the parking lot was an innocent development, and not a well-planned or thought-out one. That being the case, one should come to realize the vastness of negative connotations we are ascribing to an entire continent in an innocent discontent for parking.

Africa (the continent) is possibly one of the best examples of the geographical ignorance Americans seemingly inherently possess. Much of the problem stems from the negative news coverage that seems to only show Africa in war, travesty, or poverty. Not only is the news media to blame, but you could also, as I know some do, take stabs at the effects of Disney films, or Hollywood in general, in the misguided image of Africa.

The image of Africa presented is one of a land of un-resting problems and war, of crimes against humanity and death, of Charlton Heston as Moses and an all white cast in “The Ten Commandments,” of poverty and starvation, of Simba fighting his uncle Scar, of uninhabitable desert and unexplored jungles, of Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria the cast of Madagascar becoming stranded, and of savagery and lack of modern civilization. None of the preceding images could be further from the truth.

Let us not forget that without that parking lot there would not be enough parking for people on campus. It would seem that some of the inaccurate perceptions of Africa most hold could have led to its name representing a parking lot. There was a time when the parking lot was just a gravel space for parking; this could have led to a connection between it and a desert. It would be true to say that throughout history people have used up their own resources, or sought resources not found in their realm, and thrust upon Africa to get what they needed.

In this sense we could accurately relate the space that the parking lot takes up to the oppression Africa has had to endure at the expense of the insatiable European and American countries, or for parking in our case. It doesn’t seem, however, that this connection was formulated before the name was attached.

One could relate the guard shack and stronghold of securities cameras to the colonization and tight control maintained by foreign powers. Throughout African history you can find control being maintained by a foreign power to preserve the interest of that power.

This probably isn’t the case as both were necessary measures to prevent unmentionably terrible crimes from occurring. For comparison though, such was the life for African women all throughout its colonization, without much defense for them, until eventually the oppression was overcome (although some areas are still trying to overcome cultural dominance). I cannot believe that one walks among us who would make this terrible connection and find it appropriate to then name the lot as such.

If we are to label parts of our life here on campus after world regions perhaps we should start referring to the construction on campus as “America.” Much like the world, we the students, have to deal with America on a daily basis weather we want to or not.

America has essentially swooped in and changed our daily lives on campus, making sure all of its priorities outweigh ours, leaving us little choice but to continue our daily life with the pesky inconvenience that promises a better overall campus life.

Nothing represents the sign of hope for an improved existence more then when America occupies your country, or in our case campus, after all.

America’s intentions are pure, right? When America finishes we will be better than before. There is nothing that could improve this school more than a new student center.

Except, of course, the new football team, for surely nothing improves a school’s quality of education better then a great football program.

No one will, of course, go around relating America to negative things, as they shouldn’t, but the same connotations would be made as with calling a parking lot Africa.

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