LTA Organizes Conference: Y(our) Struggle

LTA Organizes Conference: Y(our) Struggle Via UCLA La Gente Newsmagazine Spring 2013 Issue (page 14)

Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. – Delta Rho Chapter at UCLA, hosted their 5th Annual Spring Conference on May 14, 2013. Lambda Theta Alpha (LTA) was founded in 1975 at Kean University, New Jersey, as the first Latina academic sorority during a time when there were few womyn, let alone Latinas in higher education. LTA was established as a support system, but it also strives to provide social and cultural activities, as well as conducting charitable and educational programs.

The Delta Rho Chapter at UCLA hosts at least two internal academic workshops per quarter for their members and their Spring Conference is open to the UCLA community and the public. This year the “Lambda Ladies” co-sponsored with the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture (CESLAC) to bring together respected guest speakers such as, Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, Professor of Medicine & Director of CESLAC at UCLA and Dr. Jerome Rabow, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at UCLA. The theme and topics of discussion vary every year.

This year’s conference topic was titled, “Y(our) Struggle: A dialogue about the contemporary issues of our time”. This theme was chosen because of the ongoing and recent incidents of micro- and macro-aggressions towards historically underrepresented students of color at the university level, locally and nationally.

Last year at UCLA, a Latina Greek member was harassed with degrading words on her apartment door. Even UCLA’s Ackerman store was selling Billabong shirts with the caption “Still Filthy” underneath an eagle and a snake that represented the Mexican flag. And last but not least, the infamous “Anti-Asian Rant”.

In Orange County, after three years of complaints from Mexican students and faculty, the annual “Señores and Señoritas” themed spirit day at Anaheim’s Canyon High School was shut down. Students’ stereotypical costumes of Mexicans included pregnant womyn pushing a stroller, gardeners, gang members and border patrol agents arresting immigrants.

On May 3rd just across town at the University of Southern California (USC), there was an end-of the year graduation party which was composed of mostly Blacks and Latino/as students that were bombarded by 79 Los Angeles police officers in riot gear. The party was registered with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and had the required security to check student IDs.

Despite the student’s compliance with police orders to leave, police officers continued to harass, taze and arrest students. On the national level, Ben Shapiro, a former UCLA Bruin, commented on the Mexican American Studies controversy in Tucson, Arizona by stating that ethnic studies is only good for “first is to meet girls and the second is to get an easy A.” These comments and actions are nothing more than a broken-record and proof that discrimination still exists. The conference was intended to address these issues of discrimination. Dr.Hayes Bautista spoke and defined trends of discrimination via micro- and macro-aggressions (e.g. segregated “separate-but-equal,” anti-miscegenation laws, etc.) and institutionalized racism throughout history up until the 21st century micro-aggressions. In particular, he explained how institutionalized racism towards Mexican Americans could be traced back to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.

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At the start of the conference, the hosts passed out surveys and asked guests to write the first thing that came to their minds when presented with different identities such as “Latina, Latino, Black female, Black male, LGBTQ, Muslim, White female, White male.” Utilizing the survey Lambda Theta Alpha distributed , Professor Rabow pointed out the conscious and unconscious stereotypes we have internalized from institutions, our peers and even family members. Professor Rabow’s contribution was interactive, and an intimate dialogue was exchanged among the audience, the hosts, and the professors, about their experiences with micro-agressions. Professor Rabow pointed out that deviating from stereotypes and “becoming anti-racist is a process that has to be ongoing,” which includes addressing the micro- or macro- aggressions.

The sorority hoped that the conference would help raise awareness about everyone’s common struggles and interests in order to encourage solidarity to achieve equality in all forms for all people.

Andreina Rocha, who organized the conference and is the Lambda Theta Alpha- Delta Rho Chapter’s Academic Chair , stated “the conference is meant to empower our guest to be pro-active in attaining equality at a personal and collective level for others at a regular-basis –not simply when the media chooses to cover accurately or not selected acts of injustice or inequality.”

Attendee Pardeep Brar, a California State University Northridge economics student, was motivated by the dialogues and the interaction the guest speakers had with the audience. He plans to make it a personal goal to be more verbal with pointing out micro-aggressions once they occur. He was also inspired to coordinate an “awareness assembly” where he hopes to bring this dialogue and awareness to his high school. “Everyone’s feeling this way and there is still no change so we need to speak up,” said Pardeep.

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