The course Campus Dialogue on race was an interactive class where we as students combined our teachings with the week long presentations on campus. Campus Dialogue on Race was created in order for communities to share their voices. Presentations ranged from various forms of artistry to educating others on history of communities whose narratives are often not told. Keynotes gave the power to members of the community who are not usually given a platform to tell their in own stories in whatever forms it takes. Presentations and workshops started on the date of Monday Oct .29 with it ending on Friday November 2. The event begin with a bang with the first being the “Say her name!”: Poetry of Witness and Resistance with the presenter Raina Leon.
The first event I attended was Marianne: One Immigrants Journey with the course I was enrolled in CRGS 108. Marianne: One Immigrants Journey was at 12:00-2:00pm with the location in Goodwin Forum. Marianne Pennekamp was focus of the documentary that was presented and told the story of how and why her family came to the United States. Her family was forced to flee Germany because of the rise to Nazism and went through several hurdles. The family was forced to adapt with several stressors by starting over in countries that were new to them. Education was important to Marianne Pennekamp but was difficult for her to attain at times due to Anti-Semitism. The effects of displacement took a large toll on her family with separation occurring first living away from her mother then her father imprisoned.
As the documentary started it showed how eerily similar what happened to Marianne Pennekamp and her family is still occurring to this day with other people. The ways in how people are forced to flee their countries in order to ensure survival and health for their families is shown each day on the news with Syrians, Central Americans etc. Also just seeing how the attitudes towards immigrants have not changed and how quickly blame is placed on communities. People hold huge misconceptions about immigration that it’s instant and easy to complete the paperwork to become American Citizens. The way that the United States government changed their tune about Jewish immigrants neglecting to speak about how at first they were aware of what was occurring and did nothing.
The second event I attended was the workshop “Say Her Name”: Poetry of Witness and Resistance presented by poet Raina Leon. The workshop “Say Her Name”: Poetry of Witness and Resistance was at 2:00-3:00pm with the location that hosted it was Goodwin Forum. Raina Leon is a professor and published writer with works that focus on several issues that affect communities of color. Leon started by reading her poetry one of her poems speaking from the point of view of a woman that had passed during Hurricane Katrina due to the lack of access to healthcare. As her workshop progressed she had the attendees work on several prompts. One of the prompts was about what you would say to a loved member if they passed.
Raina Leon’s workshop was my favorite out of all the campus dialogue on race events that I had attended. The writing prompt that she assigned the audience with the scenario of what to say to a loved one if they passed made me feel a number of emotions. Writing the prompt was difficult because it brought up emotions about my older cousin who had just passed months before I came to Humboldt. The way she read what she had written was beautiful because I feel like we are taught to fear death and see it in a negative light. The way we see death often prevents us at times to remember all the beautiful memories we shared with our loved ones.
The third event that I attended during Campus Dialogue on Race was Disrupting Bias 101 with the presenters Cori Jara and Meredith Oram. The workshop spoke about the differences between equity and equality with emphasis on how to recognize our own biases. Differences between the different types of racisms that present themselves in various forms was explained. Cori Jara and Meredith Oram as part of their workshop had the audience interact with each other where they had everyone listen to each other’s various experiences centered around race and ethnicity. Emphasis was placed on the importance of listening to the partner that you participated in the exercise with by not agreeing or making facial expressions.
Cori Jara and Meredith Oram’s workshop was important in the way it spoke to educators about how bias affects how they teach students. People are usually not aware of unconscious biases until they are pointed out to them. I liked how the workshop didn’t place the sole responsibility of educating others on communities of color. When I’ve seen people speak about biases before back home they would usually try to bring people of color in and make it seem like it was mandatory for communities to teach others but get nothing back.
The fourth event that I attended was Rev. Alvin Herring’s workshop that was located in the Kate Buchanan Room during 3:00-4:00pm. The focus of the workshop was to speak about organizing and connecting with others. Rev. Alvin Herring started the workshop off by speaking about his life and how he came into education. When attending college it was a huge struggle to get his degree because it was refused to him at first. The workshop was one of my second favorites because of how he spoke about the importance of knowing people outside the community.
The course had multiple readings to read and also reflect on during discussions with a variety of topics. One of the required readings was from the book An African American and Latin History of the United States focusing on how capitalism has played a important role in communities of colors lives. The chapter “Forgotten Workers of America: Racial Capitalism and the war on The Working Class, 1890’s to 1940’s” focuses on what occurs when workers begin to ask for a liveable salary and to be given their rights. The chapter when it first started spoke about how workers rebelled against horrendous conditions.
The part of the chapter that I’ve heard about before from family members is the treatment they received when they immigrated from Mexico to the United States. My grandfather Raymond Garcia often told stories about how Mexicans were discarded by the United States when they wanted a community to scapegoat. The life of a Migrant field worker is not new to a majority of the elders in the maternal side of my family who still remember the abuses they faced from farmers. Fear was planted by farmers in order to maintain control as stated “…found that growers routinely engineered terror campaigns to prevent “Unionization of farm labor on any basis… (Ortiz P.132).”
The second reading that I’ve chosen is “Queer Youth v. The State of California: Interrogating Legal Discourses on the Rights of Queer Students of Color which focuses on the discrimination and dangers the community faces. The murder of Lawrence King is spoken about in the beginning on how their death could be also linked to racism. A need to study intersectionalities that impact the LGBTQ communities of color is emphasized. Schools need to place importance on protection for their students that face harassment and violence on a daily basis. I can relate to the reading as a queer Chicana who’s dealt with harassment and also seen friends and community members face this in the forms of verbal and physical attacks.
- Works Cited
- “6. Forgotten Workers Of America: Racial Capitalism And The War on The Working Class, 1890’s to 1940’s.” An African American and Latinx History of the United States, by Paul Ortiz, Beacon Press, 2018, pp. 118–142.
- Marquez, Rigoberto, and Ed Brockenbrough. “Queer Youth v. the State of California: Interrogating Legal Discourses on the Rights of Queer Students of Color.” Curriculum Inquiry, vol. 43, no. 4, 2013, pp. 461–482., doi:10.1111/curi.12021.