Earlier this November, we had the honor and pleasure of attending the annual conference for the California Sociological Association where Rosa Conrad and SocRogueScholars contributor, Lillian Nahar, were invited to present their scholarly research. We made the eight-hour road trip to the conference, which was held in the city of Sacramento, California.
Scholars, educators, students, and social advocates came to the conference to discuss new and existing knowledge about social change at the local and global arenas. Rosa and Lillian served as part of the panel for the session called “Race Matters.” While Rosa has been initially invited to present her thesis research on Latin@ parent involvement in the U.S. public schools, she was also asked to become the session’s presider and discussant. Lillian presented her proposed research on institutionalized racism regarding workplace discrimination cases in the U.S. courts. They were joined by PhD student, Maria Mora, who presented her study on local movements in Latino immigrant communities.
After presentations were done, the session opened up to a Q & A with the audience. Interesting enough, the first question sparked up an in-depth discussion about the meaning of blackness and being black, inspired by Lillian’s presentation on institutionalized racism for black professionals. The student asking the question proposed that we are seeing a real need for black communities to move away from the racial identity of being black, and instead embrace the identity of being African American. Many valid points were made to support this perspective, one of which pointing to how blackness is associated as negative, evil, or otherwise bad in language (e.g., blackballed, blacklist, black magic, etc.). It is a label that negatively affects how people with darker skin are perceived and treated.
While certainly a valid argument, it also brought up challenges as the audience and panel considered whether changing one’s identity was enough to promote anti-racism when the legal and political languages continued to support racist frameworks, and whether such a change would contribute to “erasing” the histories of black oppression and even perhaps black heritage from the public consciousness.
Yet perhaps just as importantly, this question also led into a discussion of how such a change would require collective support and effort. It connected to Maria’s work on the political and social movements for Latino communities, and how it might reflect the amount of work and success entailed for other communities of color. It shed new possibilities for Rosa’s work on the involvement of Latin@ parents at their children’s schools as a form of social movement and collective intervention for meaningful change. We all came away from the discussion with a newfound understanding and appreciation for the thematic ties that bind us to why race still matters.
We at SocRogueScholars would like to give a special shout out to Lillian Nahar and Maria Mora for their brilliant research as well as their wonderful presentations during the session. We also cannot forget the amazing support from the audience: the sociologists, the students, and the advocates who came together with different perspectives and backgrounds and yet worked under the same underlying drive to promote real, positive change to our communities.
As with any and all conference trips, we cannot help but enjoy and experience the culture of the city or town we’re visiting. Here are some photos showcasing our brief yet memorable tour through Sacramento: