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Dr. Reid Gomez fields questions at dinner

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.

Arcus Without Borders

By Olivia Nalugya

The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership to host its first conference in next fall, September 24-28, 2014

According to the conference website, “the 2014 gathering aims to question, interrogate and complicate the very notion of borders from a number of intersectional, cartographical, ideological, political, cultural, and social locations.”

Lisa Brock, Associate Professor of History and Academic Director of the Center, maintains that it is going to be a conference as well as an “unconference.” The conference aspect encompasses the major events that the center has planned for the three days such as proposals, plenaries, a poetry night, and presentations from musicians and artists.

However, the “unconference” aspects of the conference include “things that could happen spontaneously, so students could decide to do a performance, a party, a pop up panel discussion or something related to students,” Brock explained.

There will also be a bulletin board for participants to jot down topics for further discussions that arise during the conference discussions.

The Center extended the deadline for submissions of proposals for papers, roundtables, think–tanks, and workshops for the conference aspect until February 15 in order to give people more time to work on their proposals.

Karla Aguilar ’13, the Center’s Student Fellow, revealed that there have been a couple of proposal submissions from all over the world from various countries, states, universities and a few from Kalamazoo College staff, students and alumni.

More submissions from students, especially, are greatly encouraged and the center is willing to accept ideas from students a few days past the deadline because they would love for students to be engaged in these conversations.

There is no specific deadline for submission of “unconference” ideas. Students can plan to have those conversations in the course of the gathering as long as they notify the organizers for planning purposes.

Based on the proposals submitted so far, the conference will likely include conversations about African boarders, undocumented youth in the United States, environmental justice, and much more.

Students are specifically encouraged to register for the conference.

“You don’t have to present to register, we want the students to come and hear all these great conversations, proposals and panels,” Brock said. Registration is free for anyone with a Kalamazoo College ID.

Organizers of the conference plan on meeting with various student organizations in the coming weeks. Brock concluded by stressing “there is still a lot of opportunity for participation.”