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Facing Race – Raul Luna

First of all, I want to thank JP for giving me this opportunity to attend the Facing Race Conference in Baltimore, and for driving us up there.  I also want to thank the person who donated for us to be able to attend this conference (the name of which is escaping my mind right now).

The Facing Race conference this year was both really informative and incredible.  There were a wide range of topics being discussed throughout the two days that we were there.  The first day I decided to go to two completely different talks that I’m interested in.  The first one focused on food/environmental justice for poor people of color.  They talked about some topics that I was already familiar with like the whole industrialized process of our entire system of getting food.  I also learned something new about the minimum wage for tip earners which is $2.13 which is way below the federal minimum wage for other workers.  I got to talk to activists who are trying to get that minimum wage raised for tip earners and learned so much about a topic that I didn’t know anything before the conference.

            Another talk I went to focused on trying to create a bigger labor movement in the country.  I’m no expert when it comes to the labor movement here, but it sounded like a really good talk to sit in and listen to.  The talk itself was mostly focused on people who are already part of the labor movement, or people who are thinking of getting into it, and I was by far the youngest person in that room.

            There was also a film series in which different documentaries were being shown throughout both days of the conference, and as a film studies major I decided to check them out.  The first documentary I saw was Harvest of Empire which investigates American involvement in Latin American countries throughout the past century and how those involvements have led to massive amounts of immigrants coming here from those countries.  Both my parents are immigrants from Latin America, and this film really helped me understand why they among millions of other people decided to leave their countries to find a better life here.

            The second film I watched was Wildness which focused on a pretty old Latino gay club in Los Angeles.  I’m from LA and watching the film I realized that as a kid I used to walk past the club with my mom but it never occurred to me to ask what that place was. It just so happens that I had to be 3000 miles away in Baltimore to find out the history of this club among a big portion of the Latino community.  Both films somehow connected back to my past and that’s the biggest thing I’m going to take away from this conference.

            Once again, I’m grateful to be attending a university in which I have the opportunity to attend conferences like Facing Race.

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