By Reynaldo Hernandez
A diverse crowd of almost 60 people; from students to faculty, humanities to sciences, gathered together for an evening of dinner and conversation hosted by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership on April 23.
Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor Dr. Reid Gómez, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area with a BA in Psychology and Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley was the highlight of the event. After introducing herself, Gómez was asked a series of questions by Professor of History Lisa Brock, followed by questions from the audience. Brock’s questions aimed at getting to know Reid Gómez in a more personal light, rather than just her work at K.
Gómez spoke about the way she introduces herself with when giving any sort of speech. Many who are familiar with Gómez know that she starts her speeches with a language that leaves many puzzled. Gómez explained that this is her honorific; the way she thanks the native people who have been on the land she is speaking on before her and a mark of respect for them. She gives these honorifics in Navajo, the language of her tribe. Gómez also mentioned her three books that she has written and the fourth one she is currently writing, but preferred to not talk about it in detail as to allow her to keep working on it.
Gómez took the time to answer questions about her upbringing as well. Gómez went on to describe her early childhood in the city of Oakland, California and how this influenced her into getting into the academic field she is in now. According to Gómez, she did not have the traditional college life that most college students have because she chose to commute to Berkeley rather than live in the dorms. On top of that she was working her way to pay tuition in college as to not accrue debt.
When Brock asked why Gómez went on to major in what she majored, she spoke about how the field of psychology gave her the opportunity and hope that she could fix her people, a people she described as broken and scarred by poverty, colonialism and hatred that’s both external and internal.
It was during the final questions that the audience got to know Gómez in a different light. Gómez narrated a part of her lived experience as someone who identifies as Mexican, Navajo, and Congolese. Gómez marked, “being the object of ridicule and hate strengthened me.” As the Q & A with Brock came to the end, Gómez took a few questions from the audience and afterwards thanked everyone for showing up and the continues support she has received from students and faculty alike at K for an Ethnic Studies program.