Learning about struggle

Look around you. The demographics of the state of Minnesota are ever changing.

I left Minnesota in the year 2000 and returned this past June after 14 years of living in Costa Rica, and I found that the people, the languages and the restaurants have changed.

Yet, the University of Minnesota campus doesn’t feel like where my daughter goes to school. The Dec. 10, 2014 Chicano and Latino Studies Student and Community Meeting with Dean John Coleman showed me the true struggle and disconnect between the growth of ethnic populations and a dwindling, underfunded Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota.

According to the Chicano Latino Affairs Council’s comparisons of the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census and American Community Survey data, the Latino population increased by 74.5 percent, from 143,382 to 250,258, in Minnesota.

However, University students, professors and community members have to request the minimalistic restoration of the Chicano and Latino studies department to replace the professor who left in May, and hire three additional faculty members to stabilize the department and fully fund the Outreach Coordinator position.

My undergraduate degree was from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Women’s Studies and Spanish. I became a teacher in Costa Rica at a bilingual school where I incorporated the writings of some of my favorite authors.

The courses we take as undergraduate students in the College of Liberal Arts likely will not lead many us to high-paying jobs as engineers and business executives. But our understanding of culture, history, sociology, psychology and literature often leads us liberal arts majors to be educators, writers and activists who work tirelessly to fight injustice and inequality wherever we live, and give back to making our communities healthier and stronger.

I have joined the Solidarity con Chicano Latino Studies group and am a founding member of “MIRAc,” the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action committee. I look forward to the movement for change and commitment to diversity by demanding funding for growing Chicano and Latino studies and ethnic studies departments in the College of Liberal Arts. Change is upon us, look around you.