I am taking this opportunity to write while I am in a relatively bad mood. There are many things going on in my life that are just annoying on a personal and professional level. It also does not help that the Knicks just lost to Miami Heat which just puts me closer to edge. With this aggression, I want to write about why I do what I do because as this blog gets older, this becomes something that I can point back to time and time again.
My day job has not been really stated. I work at Syracuse University as a member of student affairs that handles events that occur primarily in the student center. I advise 5 student groups ( 2 Latino student organizations, 1Multicultural Frat, 1 Latino Frat, and co-advise NALFO). I donate my time to students and try to guide them in the right direction. I have written several letters of recommendations for awards, employment, graduate schools, and internships. I have become a supervisor, mentor, advocate, psychologist, friend, brother, and in some cases, another dad. I can also be the bad guy, the asshole, and the sarcastic dude that never smiles.
My love for students never dies because I know what it is like to be in their shoes. I know what is like to almost not graduate. I know how it feels to be bored with classes and to be distracted by outside forces like girls and family. I know what it is like to be the only person of color in a class filled with white students and the loneliness that is felt when you have to speak for your race (in my case it seemed I was speaking for Blacks and Latinos). I went through many things and never understood who to go or if there even was someone that I could talk to.
When I was hired 10+ years ago, I wanted to be that person. While I think that I have achieved that goal, I found it difficult to just stop there. I wanted to create something that made Latino students proud. With that came the Latino Listerv (that barely gets used now), I began to advise my first student organization, and then there was the creation of Fiesta Latina. With all that, I was not done. I wanted to do anti racism work because pride of a culture comes from understanding it’s struggle.
The Latinegr@s Project was born 2 years ago in a joint effort between me and Bianca. Everyday since then I have been grateful for joining forces with her. My view of educating students broadens to educating the masses (or whomever will listen). Each of these things become extremely hard while not being mutually exclusive. Not all my students are Latino. My adviser role reaches a diverse amount of students just like the blog posts I write.
Yet, I get annoyed when students do not see the full scope of their potential. While, I was there once, the amount of resources has increased; the amount of programs promoting diversity increased and there seems to be very little care shown. As if there is this sense of entitlement where they may be glad programs exist for the sake of existing but not really interested in going. Never is there a thought of what might happen if things like Latino Heritage Month would cease to exist.
I get annoyed when the images of Afro Latinos are never properly shown, which is why I press on with the Latinegr@s Project and its expansion last year. One can never show too many positive images of black and brown people. There is no such thing as being too educated, but what if there are people who just don’t want to listen anymore? When I see imagine above I realize that Afro Latinos are truly invisible. When I see things like the video below, I know that racism is an issue (even if you consider your to be a high class Cuban).
It makes me thing of my students who do not recognize that having bad grades because they rather bag “hoes” and smoke weed just makes them a statistic. I do what I do because I have to fight the good fight. I want to show students that their voice matters.