Episode 7: Matt and Rod- The LASA Incident
Chapel ProbationMarch 01, 2022x
8
01:00:1655.78 MB

Episode 7: Matt and Rod- The LASA Incident

Scott OkamotoScott OkamotoHost

Before LASA (Latin America Student Association), ethnic orgs at APU were places to hide out away from the oppressive white culture that dominated the campus. The Multi-Ethnic Programs office was safe space to find your people and build communities of support. Matthew Gonzalez, Rod Olmeda-Lopez, and Jonathan Garcia created LASA during the beginning of the Obama era. Not content to just offer support and care to the shell-shocked Latino(x) community's daily experiences of racism, they forced APU to confront its racism head on. They changed school policy and fought the school's racism when the school told them they couldn't honor the late Joe Snell, the director of MEP, with a Dia de los Muertos offrenda. 

APU only had Town Hall meetings when the shit really hit the fan. Just a year earlier, it held one to address one of the many swastika incidents. LASA would force a second one when it voiced its anger at having their Dia de los Muertos display taken down for no other reason than it was not a white tradition. The admin told them it had pagan roots despite acknowledging that school-sanctioned events around Halloween and Christmas also had pagan roots. The difference? Hmmmm....

But it wasn't just protesting. They worked with administration and the board of trustees to get APU designated as "serving hispanic communities," they made financial aid available to undocumented students, and they got Spanish translations for the live stream of graduation. Just as importantly, LASA pushed the culture to pay attention to all non-white communities, which may sound strange, but believe me...that was something. 

These guys are my brothers. I'm so proud of who they have become, and I'm honored to have seen them grow from confused young evangelical men into who they are today. Do I poke fun of them? Of course. But they are two of the strongest and most admirable people I've ever known. Enjoy the episode.

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Music in this episode by Shin Kawasaki and Wingo Shackleford, Elephants with Guns, and Scott Okamoto.

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