La Raza Unida: A united race
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Within White Station, nine percent of the population is Latino, and a large amount of these students are coming together to amplify their voices.
What started with a Latino Memphis high school youth rally transformed into a safe place for students to connect and help each other build a better future. The rally inspired Latino students to take initiative of their lives. Dianna Miranda (11) felt compelled to take action and to help her Latino peers. Because of this, Latino Voices was born.
“I had always had the idea of starting an organization that would help my Latino students out, and after seeing how inspired everyone was, I saw the perfect opportunity,” Miranda said.
Miranda and instructional facilitator Susan Satar took the feelings expressed at the Youth Rally and created the club, where students could hold meetings after school and have discussions about pertinent issues in their culture. The main issue for the majority of Latino students is college. Most students need help obtaining scholarships, and undocumented students need help being admitted to colleges.
These issues led to the college night for Latino students, which was held by the club. Brochures and scholarship lists were passed out, and presenters came to educate the Latino students and parents of White Station on the college process.
Latino Voices is also meant to encourage students to strive for success and to break the stereotypes that lie within the Memphis community.
“Even being in the honors program myself, a lot of people think I’m stupid or are surprised when I tell them I am [in honors], but one of the main goals is to break the stereotypes that Latinos face at school,” Miranda said. “We want to change what people see and prove that we have goals, and we’re trying hard.”
As the club works to unite the Latino students of White Station, they also have ignited a spark of activism in enough of the student body to lead a rally.
Activist Pamela Arcega (12) organized a deportation rally on October 29 in front of the At Home store on Summer Ave. Arcega realized that immigration and deportation affects many students at White Station. She faced the issue head on by organizing the peaceful march to bring attention to the problem.
Arcega spent about two weeks organizing the rally, and the biggest issue was obtaining the permit, which the city of Memphis requires in order to hold any type of special event. She received a lot of organizational help from Alexandra Garcia (12), whose greatest contribution was putting her name on the permit, since she is 18 years old. Garcia felt passionate about the rally because her mother was deported two years ago.
“I want to spread awareness that this is a problem, and it affects everybody, not just adults,” Arcega said.
In the end, the protest was a success, gaining recognition and support from everyone involved. Even one of Memphis Police Department officers was there to congratulate Arcega on accomplishing such a great task and making part of the Memphis community aware of the deportation problem.
All in all, Latino Voices is a growing platform for not only students with Latino heritage but for students of all backgrounds as well. The organization wants to share their stories with people that will listen and are willing to help.
“I think, finally, a group of people who did not necessarily feel that their voices were being seen or heard, now feel like they are heard,” Satar said. “Hence, Latino Voices. At the end of the day, I think human beings just want their voices to be heard, and once they feel like someone is listening to them, then empowerment piece comes in.”