Dancer talks about overcoming challenges

Auti Angel spoke Tuesday at Coffman about her struggles.

Auti Angel

Ashley Goetz

Auti Angel

Auti Angel has endured sexual abuse, dealt with racial identity and learned to live in a wheelchair, but that hasnâÄôt deterred her from being positive âÄî and trying to inspire people everywhere. Angel, a one-time dancer for N.W.A and LL Cool J , is a part of La RazaâÄôs WomenâÄôs Week . AngelâÄôs Tuesday night’s appearance in the Great Hall of Coffman Union was co-sponsored by the Disabled Student Cultural Center. âÄúIâÄôm here to empower every woman that I encounter,âÄù Angel said. âÄúThereâÄôs this strength inside of you that once you tap into, you can take over the world.âÄù In 1992, Angel, who began dancing at age 2 , was involved in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Co-director of the Disabled Student Cultural Center Rachel Garaghty said she hopes Angel will encourage students with disabilities. Angel was still a patient in the hospital when she started her own television show where she interviewed performers like Tupac Shakur, Chris Tucker and Ice Cube. Events coordinator for La Raza Tracy Texley said AngelâÄôs message of encouragement and hope also raises the issues of discrimination to a broad audience. âÄúI hope that people can identify with her struggle,âÄù Texley, a fourth-year individual studies student , said. With a background of German, English, Mexican and Peruvian, Angel felt challenged by her racially-diverse identity. âÄúI wasnâÄôt white enough for my white family, I wasnâÄôt Latin enough for my Latin family,âÄù Angel said. âÄúSo I had to fight and struggle through that.âÄù The dancer advocated education, saying it would have given her a plan when she could find no other employment. âÄúI didnâÄôt have anything to fall back on when I so-called âÄòlostâÄô my legs,âÄù she said. La Raza focuses on promoting education in the Latino and Chicano cultures through community outreach by providing workshops for students in the Twin Cities. âÄúWe teach them about campus, give them a little âÄòCollege 101,âÄôâÄù Texley said. âÄúWe tell them, âÄòThis is what you need to expect.âÄôâÄù Angel said both minorities and disabled people deal with being âÄústamped,âÄù or stereotyped. âÄúIt isnâÄôt this end-all condition,âÄù Garaghty said. âÄúWe hope that people understand that different disabilities, no matter how severe, really pose no limitation at all to what you want to accomplish.âÄù The power to overcome challenges lies inside the individual, Angel said. âÄúEverybody has problems âÄî minority, non-minority, all the classes âÄî everybodyâÄôs having a hard time right now,âÄù she said. âÄúNow we can realize that there is no minority, weâÄôre really all the same.âÄù