On Monday April 10 in the afternoon, UCSD hosted the “Remembering Asuncion Nochixtlan” event.
Before the “State Violence,Building Bridges and Global Struggles of Resistance” panel started, two of the panelists and main organizers of the event, Elybeth Sofia Alcantar and Mariela Leticia Dieguez, stood, asking the crowd to rise and give a prayer and moment of silence for those lost during the 2016 conflict in Nochixtlán; where federal policemen tried to move protesting professors and students’ parents out of blocked highways. Fighting against the educational reforms implemented during the government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, the protest left at least six dead and 108 people injured. (CNN) An emotional Mariela, who went to Oaxaca to document the event and spent a year organizing the panel, lead the prayer and thanked the victims for the ultimate sacrifice they made. With their names and pictures written down, they made an altar for them. An emotional beginning to an extremely informative panel.
The panel, moderated by scholar Kim Marie Clark (UCSD), was not only about Asuncion. In total, five people spoke with various projects and passions that connected them to their communities. First to speak was Elybeth Sofia Alcantar, an undergraduate student at CSU Chico, majoring in Latin American Studies with a double major in Spanish and a minor in Geography. Elybeth wants to put attention to the mistreatment of Indigenous Mexican experiences. Before the panel started, Elybeth thanked the Kumeyaay people of Southern California for letting us borrow their land. Her words are powerful, thought provoking and educational.
Mariela Leticia Dieguez is a preschool teacher in San Diego and an alumni of CSU San Marcos. Mariela traveled to Oaxaca and saw firsthand the devastation caused by the federal police. She even volunteered to help the community while she was there, listening and learning about the events that unfolded, even participating in night watches because the community didn’t want the police to remove the charred buses, so people could see the devastation they caused. Her images surrounded the panel as they spoke; images of burned cars and a young curious boy in many of them, showing innocence in tragedy. Although she’s not a trained photographer or cinematographer, Mariela’s eye is sharp and she knows how to convey a powerful message with images. Her creation of this media helped people really understand the devastation and injustice that occurred that day. Media matters – record and write everything.
Aundrey Jones is a third year PhD student in the department of Ethnic Studes at UCSD. For the panel, he focused on his work advocating for the formerly incarcerated with ‘All of Us or None’ (Riverside and San Diego), a grassroots organization with the same focus. His other works also focus on policing in 20th century Los Angeles. At one point, Aundrey talked about the feeling of isolation when going through school and especially the Phd program – all his time is consumed in work. “It’s very quiet, it’s hard…” Kim, the moderator stepped in, “well, you NEED the quiet. It’s needed.”
Aundrey’s work is needed, the LAPD is STILL one the most notorious police units (other than the NYPD) in terms of police brutality.
So, this “silence” is a stepping stone for the bigger picture, to tell these truths and have them seen everywhere.
Marcie Rojas is in her last year of the MA Women’s studies program at SDSU and is currently finishing up her thesis project, “Mentoring Girls in Lock-Up”. Her thesis focuses on mentor relationships with girls of color who are locked up in juvenile detention centers. Marcie passionately spoke about how girls should be the center of our activism against the prison industrial complex. “These girls are important, these girls matter,” Marcie said to the crowd. Her passion could be felt in her words and in her story. These young girls could have a future – we should mentor them and never see them locked up again.
Lastly, Bayan Abusneineh. A third year PhD student in the department of Ethnic Studies at UCSD, Bayan is Palestinian. So, her research focuses on state and gender based violence in Israel and Palestine during the early years of Israel’s formation. Bayan created her website, Humanize Palestine, to “honor the deceased as martyrs by bringing them back to life through their pictures, stories, art, and poetry.” Bayans story and work was particularly hard to listen to. The Israeli/Palestine conflict has a very long, drawn out and violent history with no end in sight. Her empathy and passion is evident in her website and studies. It is a subject many Americans ignore, but it is something that has deeply affected us as a society the last couple of decades.
While all five have different projects, they shared a passion for their community as a connection. Sometimes, as children of immigrants/people of color in general, we tend to feel slightly isolated. We are surrounded by white spaces, cold classrooms or offices, people who deny racism exists, brutal police forces on AMERICAN citizens and a problematic court system becomes a large amount incarcerated young folx of color. All five of these scholars were extremely inspirational. They are learning, growing and working hard while always keeping their eye out for their community – their people. Though the fight continues, the future looks stronger with educators and scholars like the ones who spoke in this inspirational panel.