This year’s Students of Color Conference was a weekend full of energy, learning, and fun. The conference was made up of 80 workshops all moving to answer the question posed to the students by Doris Martinez, a co-chair of the SOCC planning committee, “How do we utilize love in a Radical Motion?”
The conference’s opening ceremony started with the land being recognized by a member of the Yakima Nation, the people native to the area. There was a song sung to bless the land and the conference, which was beautiful, and not recorded per the request of the singer. The ceremony then moved to an explanation of the people behind the scenes at, and leading up to, the conference.
To start off the workshops of the conference, one of our reporters attended the Men’s identity session, however the Women’s session was too full for our second reporter to participate. In the Men’s session, the speakers went back to the basics by defining what is truly a man and what his role in the society as well as his role in a family should be. They allowed participants to lead the conversation by allowing volunteers to share their personal experience about the “masculinity trap”. A common issue which was brought up was having a disconnect with their masculine side due to a lack of positive male role models within their family, as well as society.
In session one Reporters from the Ranger attended the biracial/multiracial and African groups. In the biracial/multiracial group the conversation focussed on the shared internal and external struggles of people who are born with feet in two or more worlds. The presenters addressed personal identity and the importance of recognizing that you are enough. The group also split into smaller discussion addressing Colorism, being multiracial in families, multiracial relationships, and more. In the African group most of the attendees were international students, the conversation was about recognizing one’s origin and that the learning about where one came from should never end. The speaker and students discussed a documentary called: Bound: Africans VS African-Americans. The documentary went over slavery and colonialism in order to emphasize that there is no true difference between Africans and African-Americans. The main message of this session was Power Through Unity: changing the future and coming together as people from the same origin.
In “Embodying Aloha- Practices of the Kanaka Maoli” Gerry Embaloroza-Tunnel, the co-founder and president of Co3 Consulting and NawahineOkaMana, took the students present on an exploration of the teachings in Hawaiian culture and how she explores them through doctoral studies in indigenous epistemology and the connection of ideas from multiple disciplines. The conversation went in depth into the meanings of concepts in Polynesian culture, how the presenter pieces together her life as an indigenous leader and a scholar, and the importance of connecting ideas from multiple disciplines in order to see the big picture and contribute to the world around us. One of our reporter’s also participated in, “The Rose That Grew From Concrete: Flipping the Script on Marginalization”, the title of which is inspired by a poem made after 2PAC’s death. Students listened to the audio version of the poem and were asked to share, if they wanted to, their biggest concrete and how they handle it.
Our reporters spent their time in workshops devoted to “Reclaiming my Narrative, Redefining My Label, and Changing Impossible to I’m Possible” and “Free Ya Mind: Liberate Your Mind and Access Your True Identity”. The workshop on reclaiming your narrative focused on the perception students have of themselves, how that perception has been influenced by the people and experiences in their lives, and how to embrace a more positive idea of self. The workshop on liberating your mind focussed on student life after the point that most of students could not make their own decisions, like what they have had to do or study because since childhood all decisions over their futures were being made by their parents or tutors. Consequently most of them cannot fit in and end up stuck in the life they have not chosen. The speaker helped students to identify who they are and how to be mind free by teaching some self-development techniques such affirmation, how to find balance, and the ability to get organized in everything they do.
One of the workshops was on climate change, which was a fitting topic for the weekend preceding Earth Day. In this workshop students were shown some of the far reaching effects of climate change and worked together to come up with ideas around how to live greener lives. Another workshop was titled “Breaking the Silence Barrier About Money” and students were asked to identify all the thoughts they have had about money as a child or currently. Most of the students’ experiences and thoughts about money were influenced by their parents. The speaker used these thoughts to help explain to them some basic knowledge on financial health. She recommended to them articles, books, and videos. And one of the quotes to take out of this session was a quote by Adam Carroll, “If kids are given financially relevant experiences in their life and someone is there to help them learn the lessons from those experiences, they have a higher likelihood of achieving financial success later in life”.
The sessions of the conference ended with time devoted to self reflection and workshops aimed at looking within. While some students spent the time alone in self reflection, our reporters went to workshops on self love and discovering your inner entrepreneur. The workshop “Making Sure I’m Alright: Taking Steps towards Radical Self-Love”, centered around the ideas of love, how we experience it, and real steps and ways to care more deeply for yourself. The “Discover Your Entrepreneur” workshop was given by Nathan Webster, a MBA professor and business owner. He went over key points of entrepreneurship by discussing major companies success stories. He also shared with students his own success path while emphasizing the fact that everyone has their own path. The session ended with an inspiring video of Eric Thomas; one of the most famous american motivational speakers around.
The closing ceremony of the conference was dominated by displays by the students from some of the workshops. There was a performance by the group which learned the salsa, a small play interpreting the rose which grew from concrete, and finally a set of Polynesian dances including the Haka. It was a ceremony full of energy and emotion ending the conference with beauty and fun.