Seven people spoke about their fears in the current political climate and the future and discussed ways to be involved in community and create change even in the face of discrimination Thursday evening.
Members of the Community and Leadership Development Center led activities and discussions of community engagement during their program “Together We Rise” at La Casa Latino Cultural Center.
“It’s important to remind students that they have the power to engage and participate in democracy,” CLDC graduate assistant Alyssa Beauchamp said.
This program has occurred two times before, once with staff at the CLDC and once at the Indiana Latino Leadership Conference. Director of La Casa Lillian Casillas asked the CLDC if they could bring the program to La Casa.
The program was initially created by the CLDC after the 2016 election because of growing fears stemming from it. It aims to remind students and community members that, even in a time when the social and political climates may seem limiting, they still have the power to create change and engage in a community, Beauchamp said.
The intimate setting in the living room of La Casa provided participants with the ability to be vulnerable in a safe place with one another. The room was silent in order to allow those present to speak about their thoughts and fears.
“It’s a time to really share personal ideas that we don’t always share,” CLDC leadership specialist Nitza Duran said. “It’s just nice to hear about people’s fears."
The program was divided into multiple sections. The event started off with participants speaking about the first time they experienced discrimination. They described their confusion when it came to their experiences, many of which first occurred at young ages in educational settings.
The group discussed how they were often hurt by stereotypes and stigmas toward Latino community members.
Participants were asked to think about and write down some of their fears about the future regarding the current political climate. These fears were then shared aloud, many of which centered around a lack of control.
“It takes the wind out of you that someone has the power to take that from your life when they don’t even know you,” Beauchamp said.
Next, participants filled out a value chart. The sheet asked about participants’ loved ones, skills and talents, hopes for humanity and more. From there, the group wrote statements about how powerful they were as individuals. The statements started with the phrase “I am not afraid."
The group was also given resources to help them come up with an action plan for bringing people together to create change. It was a sheet of paper with tips and questions one can ask her or himself.
“This is where you can start, and you might be scared or it might be a little anxiety-inducing that you have to take action, but you can do it and there are people that will support you,” Beauchamp said.