PUBLIC PROFILE: Alma Rosa Alvarez, Racial Equity Coalition co-founder
Rogue Valley Messenger: You are an English literature professor at SOU. What is your favorite topic to teach and why?
Alma Rosa Alvarez: I teach US Literature. One of my favorite topics to teach is Modernism. I also like teaching US Ethnic Literature. I am currently teaching a course on Racialized Bodies.
RVM: You’re also a co-founder of the Racial Equity Coalition, right? What is the organization and why is it dear to you?
ARA: I am one of the co-founders of the Racial Equity Coalition. This organization works towards creating racial equity in the Rogue Valley through education and advocacy. The organization is dear to me because I believe in its mission of creating a space in society where all people are valued, regardless of their race.
RVM: Are there any recent events, pertaining to the REC or not, you found to have a particular impact on the community?
ARA: The REC, almost a year ago, launched The Race Tool Kit. We created a tool kit that helps folks engage in race conversations. Since its inception, there have been over 50 race conversations (using the box) around the Rogue Valley. The box has been useful for individuals to develop an awareness of unconscious bias, and it has created a space for folks to think about how they might think or do things differently.
RVM: Are there any upcoming REC events you’re excited for?
ARA: In March and in July, the REC will be hosting some race conversations. One will be in the SOU Social Justice Conference. The other will be in the “Finding Our Way: A Community Exploration of Compassion” in April.
RVM: Aside from teaching and fighting for social justice, what else do you like to do?
ARA: I love spending quality time with my family. I love reading. I also love writing poetry, when I get a chance.
RVM: How do you feel the current national political climate is affecting the local community?
ARA: The local national political climate has had several effects. One is that some folks feel like they have permission to be openly racist to other individuals. As soon as the election was won, people from the Latino community were reporting that individuals, sometimes folks they knew, were walking up to them and telling them, “I can’t wait until you leave” or “Too bad you won’t be here long, because now you will be deported.” Those individuals made assumptions that all Latino were undocumented. Some folks, in seeing some of the racism that had existed underneath, in subtle ways, come out, began to feel despair. This was also a negative effect. However, for some, this has been a wake-up call about all the issues that we have not yet resolved as a nation. In this sense, this has galvanized individuals and organizations to do better, to get us to communicate with one another, learn from one another, and try to create communities that value inclusiveness, love, kindness, compassion, etc.