HRC Commisioner Irma Beserra Núñez introduces panelists from San Fernando high school students to share their experiences with community members.
The Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission (HRC) collaborated with LA Mission College (LAMC) to present NIOT’s film Light in the Darkness on Saturday, Sept. 28, followed by a panel discussion with local San Fernando Valley high school students. The event was part of the HRC’s city-wide screening campaign to help local communities and schools respond to the rise in hate and bias incidents, particularly discrimination and violent attacks against Mexican Americans and Latinos.
Event co-chairs, Commissioners Irma Beserra Núñez and Irene Tovar, worked with HRC staff and LAMC leadership to gather community members, students and representatives from the offices of Rep. Tony Cardenas and LA Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez and Nury Martinez for a poignant conversation and a powerful call to action.
In her remarks, Commissioner Tovar referenced statistics from the newly released 2018 Hate Crime Report, compiled by Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. She emphasized, “These are not numbers, but human beings; these numbers represent people we know.”
LAMC President, Dr. Monte Perez, offered a warm welcome and expressed his commitment to continuing this important work, announcing plans for future screenings with faculty and students.
After the screening, LAMC Dean of Student Services Ludi Villegas-Vidal led a conversation with the student panel. The students shared personal experiences of discrimination and fear within their communities – and then highlighted activities that give them a sense of agency, including: volunteering with the environmental justice organization Pacoima Beautiful; participating in a research project about the effects of higher rents on lower income families in the region; and getting ready to vote for the first time!
Michelle Gutierrez pointed to Marcelo Lucero’s brother, Joselo, as an inspiration to step up and speak out. “No matter who you are, you have a voice,” she affirmed.
Los Angeles Unified School District board member Kelly Gonez offered a call to action, alerting audience members to DVD copies of Light in the Darkness available through LA public library branches for community screenings. She committed to bringing the film to LA schools as part of LAUSD’s explicit focus on anti-discrimination, anti-hate, and equity programs.
In her final remarks, Commissioner Tovar delivered a clear challenge: “This problem is not just for inspired young people to tackle. Every individual has a personal obligation to take action and address discrimination and hate.”
|Commissioners Irene Tovar and Irma Beserra Núñez (center) stand with LAMC Dean of Student Services Ludi Villegas-Vidal, LAUSD board member Kelly Gonez, and staff from the offices of local elected officials with student panelists.|