On February 26 the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute on Race and Ethnicity hosted the Black and Brown Lives Matter Workshop conducted by visual artist and educator, Esmeralda Baltazar, and hip-hop musician and visual artist Aquil Charlton. Organized by UALR associate professor of Spanish (Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies) Dr. Erin Finzer, the workshop was part of the “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History” public programming initiative, sponsored by the UALR Department of International and Second Language Studies, the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, the Arkansas Arts Center, and the Clinton School of Public Service, and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.
Attended by over forty Latino, black, and white high school and college students, the two hour workshop was designed to show attendees how to work across racial divides and social barriers to improve their communities. Workshop facilitators Baltazar and Charlton immersed students in activities where, among other things, they learned how to listen to one another with respect and empathy, how to have difficult conversations, and how to reach consensus between competing factions.
UALR graduate student Yolanda Anzora, who attended the workshop with her son, Joshua, said it was far more than she expected, adding, “I left inspired, motivated, and excited, with a sense of commitment to the causes that are important to my community.”
Anzora looks forward to applying what she learned and says she would participate in another workshop of this kind, particularly if it focuses on multilingual spaces, multicultural coalitions and project development, as the Black and Brown Lives Matter workshop did.
“I learned how to generate new ideas and perspectives on how to solve real problems that affect my community (Latino) such as lack of quality education and equal opportunities and the language barrier,” says Yolanda Anzora.