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On Tuesday, in New Orleans, LA, Telemundo held its first Foro Contra el Racismo – a town hall-style National Day of Racial Healing conversation about how to work toward an equitable society free of racial divisions.
The event was moderated by Telemundo’s Johana Suárez, news anchor, and Lori Montenegro, Washington bureau chief, and featured artistic performances, videos profiling organizations working on racial healing, and two panel discussions.
Following a performance by the local Garifuna band Grupo Yurumeina, the first panel kicked off with a conversation about perceptions of racism in the Latino community. Tanya Katerí Hernández, Fordham law professor and author of “Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality,” talked about the importance of Latinos recognizing shared experiences with African Americans in terms of racism. José Rico, executive director of the Commission for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Greater Chicago (TRHT), called on fellow Latinos to fight racism against other communities as well as their own.
Asked about how one begins the fight against racism at home, Leticia Casildo, co-founder and executive director of Families United in Action, emphasized the importance of intentional conversations, including at the dinner table, so that one’s children know how to deal with issues related to racism.
Marking the midpoint of the evening, poet Juan Delgado was brought to the audience by video, powerfully reciting – for more than four minutes – Cuando el Silencio Habla, in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
Returning to the forum, the second panel delved into manifestations of systemic racism, especially in immigration and criminal justice.
Rafaela Uribe, associate counsel for Latino Justice’s racial justice project said her organization is increasing its focus on some of the populations most affected by systemic racism.
“We need to talk more about the issues faced by the most marginalized people within the Latino community – Afro-Latino people, Indigenous people,” she said. “It is a double challenge they face when dealing with these racist systems.”
Responding to a question from the audience about how to combat systemic racism that harms immigrants and Indigenous people, Héctor Sánchez-Flores, executive director of the National Compadres Network, called for unification across communities to fight systemic racism. He said that improving conditions for families of a particular group – immigrants, for example – benefits the rest of us and demonstrates to our children that we have things in common.
Moderator Lori Montenegro agreed, adding the powerful example of how Latinos and African Americans marched together after the murder of George Floyd.
Echoing this sentiment, at the close of the panel, Uribe quoted Fannie Lou Hamer, saying, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free”. Sánchez-Flores said that the young people in the audience can be teachers of the change we want to see. Finally, Elizabeth Garcia, an activist and racial healing practitioner in association with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, said:
Finally, WKKF Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Carlos Rangel closed out the forum by extending an invitation from the foundation to establish ties of solidarity between communities, and to find ways to be allies with those who are not like ourselves, with the support of conversation guides and action kits WKKF created and made accessible for free at sanacionracial.org.