By Diego Loera
Black and Latino scholars and activists gathered at UC Santa Cruz to discuss instances of collaborations and to dismiss the idea of racial collaborations not existing.
On April 19, El Centro: Chicano/Latino Resource Center and the Chicano/Latino Research Center sponsored the “Black/Brown Roundtable: Collaborations across Differences,” an event that brought speakers from all backgrounds to a debating table to discuss collaborations between races, and the media’s lack of attention to such cases.
Collaboration consists of active interaction and cooperation between members of different races. The activists, through the roundtable discussion, seek to develop bonds of friendship that will create positive change and racial solidarity.
Students had the opportunity to listen to others’ unique experiences with racial collaboration, as well as their opinions on some of the factors and obstacles that hinder interracial relations.
Emeded Ambriz, a fourth-year anthropology major, attended the event and was impressed by Carlos Muñoz, professor emeritus of Chicano studies at UC Berkeley, and his passion for racial relations.
“He really caught my attention and made me think about the problems within society,” Ambriz said.
John Brown Childs, a professor of sociology at UCSC, caught students’ attention by describing his course that deals with “transcommunal cooperation in multicultural settings,” as well as his analysis of mainstream media’s emphasis on the violence and negativity surrounding urban blacks and Latinos.
“I have worked with groups like Barrios Unidos [an urban peace organization] that help both African-American and Latino groups,” Childs said. “When media emphasizes too much on the negative side of African-American/Latino relationships, then people become cynical.”
According to Childs, mass media’s negative outlook affects people and their consideration for collaboration and racial solidarity.
Nane Alejandrez, the executive director of Barrios Unidos, has helped prison inmates from the Deuel Vocational Institution in San Joaquin County through events held within the prison that involve music and dance. His success has brought Hollywood stars like Danny Glover to work with him, and they have created solidarity among inmates of different races.
“I hope that [the message of collaboration] reaches out to all conscious people,” Alejandrez said. “I hope it encourages people to become and stay involved for change.”
The event concluded with an open discussion between the audience and the speakers.
Through this event, Childs hopes students leave knowing that interracial collaborations do exist in communities all around the United States, and hopes they are not influenced by a media that begs to differ.
“Whoever is in the room at least has in their mind that collaboration does exist,” Childs said. “I hope they think about this, and not get swayed by sensationalism.”