Achieving a sense of safety among those who feel threatened has become a widespread cause. Protests, walkouts, and campaigns have sprouted throughout the country following the recent election, and one woman stands at the center of it all.
Student activist Melissa Robles is passionate when it comes to representing the Latino community.
Robles, chair of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) club at Pierce,
has been studying at Pierce for two years. As a 21-year-old Hispanic female, Robles feels it is her duty to voice her concerns on the current President-elect and unity within the people.
Robles joined MEChA last spring semester and became further involved in student activism. MEChA in English translates to Student Movement of Chicanos of Aztlan. Aztlan is the land of the Chicanos that they call home. Robles explained how this land includes California, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and every part of the United States that used to be Mexico.
Robles was interested in joining the MEChA Club because she was a member at the MEChA Club in her high school.
She explains how the MEChA club helped her grasp a better understanding of the Latino community and their everyday struggles.
“I actually was in the advisor’s Chicano’s study class which is how I got involved and even found out there was a MEChA club on campus,” Robles said. “Last year things turned around for me because one of our biggest concerns and main goals last semester was to add more Chicano studies classes here on campus, given that 43% of the population is Latino or Hispanic identifying. So we just felt like we were being under represented especially in our studies and within staffing. So our goal was not only to get classes but also have those classes be taught by Chicano professors.”
Robles has also participated in various protests including the walkout that occurred on campus last week. She spoke to the crowd of students and faculty.
Robles’s main concern with Donald Trump’s presidency is not completely focused on illegal immigration, but more towards his platform in reaching an entire nation. She believes if Trump continues to speak out with hatred, the division between all races will increase instead of unifying each other.
Robles has many friends, family members and acquaintances that have been affected by the words of Trump.
“I do have a lot of undocumented folks in my family and in my circle of friends, and some of them were completely terrified,” Robles said. “They were breaking down crying not knowing what to do or what’s going to happen. Just being really uncertain of their future. Though others just took it like I did and were like, ‘ok well you know what there is nothing we can do about it right now except for maybe fight that fact and see if there is anything around our current situation.’ If it means that you might have to go back to Mexico to finish your schooling or finding the way to stay in the United States to finish your education then that’s what it was.”
Valerie Garcia, secretary for MEChA, who is also a close friend with Robles admires her dedication and strength in representing Hispanic women.
Garcia shows her support in the events Robles participates in by also attending and lending a helping hand. Garcia attended a protest with Robles on Victory and Van Nuys Blvd. where police escorted 15 to 20 members in the crowd to make sure everything ran smoothly. This protest dealt with people voicing their concerns on the newly elected president.
“I feel like much more people should be involved especially if it has to do with moving forward as an individual, group, or community,” Garcia said.
Christian Diaz, co-chair of the MEChA club,
believes it is really important for this generation to be involved with politics and become more educated in affairs that affect society. He supports Robles exercising her first amendment rights.
“Throughout any movement, throughout all of history it’s been activism that’s changed everything,” Diaz said. “With the French and the storming of the bastille and the peasants, if it weren’t for that they wouldn’t have taken over the government. If it wasn’t for Martin Luther King Jr. standing up, boycotting the buses and marching we wouldn’t have our civil rights and equal rights. Activism just does so much for this world.”
Robles, Garcia, and Diaz all agree that the MEChA club has impacted their lives positively educating them on the history of the Chicano heritage. Garcia feels the club has helped her gain a sense of identity and cultural unity with students from the same background as her. Diaz also feels that the club is a great support system to him academically.
“I hated school, I was never good at it,” Diaz said. “I was just academically unsuccessful since joining MEChA and also studying Chicano studies I’m a 3.4 gpa student, honor roll. I want to pursue a career in academics and affect others in a positive way just as I was,” Diaz said.
Robles hopes to subside all the fear that has been created amongst immigrants and others affected by our President-elect.
“For most people it has to do with feeling safe and not having to fear coming home to I.C.E. or police being at your doorstep, or even coming home and not seeing your parents,” Robles said.