Local culture center offering ‘Homer to Homeboy’ workshop seriesWritten by Sanya Ali | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Students of all ages with a thirst for knowledge on Latino and Chicano history now have a forum to share information and artistic expression.
A local poet and artist who is teaching a series of classes at the Sofia Quintero Art and Culture Center (SQACC) hopes that Latino and Chicano youth will become more aware of their cultural history and shared struggles.
The SQACC partnered with the Farm and Labor Organization Committee to organize the series of workshops and classes called “From Homer to Homeboy.” Classes are free and will be held every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon beginning May 31.
The instructor for the classes is Manuel Caro. Caro, a former professor and Ph.D in English literature, designed the course with specific ideas about the group he wanted to represent.
“The history and culture of Latinos and Mexican Americans is not part of the curriculum at high and UT and local colleges,” Caro said. “And that there was a need for that kind of thing, especially against and contradictions and distortions of our sides of the story.”
Maria Rodriguez-Winter, interim executive director for the SQACC, said her objective is to attract community members who may not be aware of their roots as Hispanic Americans.
“The goal is to help those Latino leaders who have been born in the United States and who have not been exposed to the educational history of the Latinos in this country in terms of its indigenous roots and various geopolitical situations they have been involved in,” Rodriguez-Winter said.
Caro said his aim is slightly different. He said he wants all attending, no matter what their racial background, to take away more than a debate or history lesson.
“It’s not a place to begin arguing this against the other side,” Caro said. “People really want to come in with a sense of and thirst for knowing this information. I also note that I want people to come in there and, at the same time they’re learning about us, I raise the question: What have you learned about yourself?”
Caro said he thinks a sense of personal understanding is paramount to understanding the stories of other cultural groups. He said he wants his students to take away a broader lens with which to view the world.
“I would like to challenge people who come to the classrooms to have that kind of reflection about not only where they come from, but to look with more critical eyes and ears at the stories we need to tell,” Caro said.
Caro said he attended junior high and high school in Toledo and, though he has moved around considerably, he knew his life’s mission would bring him back.
“It’s bigger than me, but someone had to start it,” Caro said. “I just happened to be blessed growing up in this area and being part of the community.”
This is the first class and workshop series for SQACC, but Rodriguez-Winter said the classes fall in line with what the center’s mission is.
“Our mission statement is to strive to be a premier, Latino-based organization that advances the important roles that art and education play in everyday lives,” Rodriguez-Winter said.
The series will focus on Chicano and Latino history, culture and art. Specific course topics change throughout the summer and fall. The classes are free to all interested, not just the Latino and Chicano communities.
“I know the first time Dr. Caro was talking about introducing these classes and we had about 200 people show up, so we’re expecting somewhere in that area,” Rodriguez-Winter said.
The class will be a mix of lecture by Caro and guest speakers and artistic expression through creative writing. The lectures will focus on United States history through an alternative lens.
Caro said he was inspired to share what he learned the history of Latino and Chicano Americans in the United States, specifically in Texas following the Polk administration.
“There was the pressure during those times to get more balance in congress and the fight between slave and non-slave states,” Caro said. “It was a push to make Texas a slave state.”
Caro said he hopes to use his educational experience to empower disadvantaged groups in the community.
“Their two biggest obstacles are: one, believing in themselves and two, their abilities, because we have so much coming at us that contradicts and puts us down.”
Caro said he wants to share the knowledge he has gained over his years of personal examination and study.
“Before I die, I feel the need to pass all that on,” Caro said. “I don’t want to just absorb all this stuff for nothing. That’s why I want to get back into teaching, but very targeted, specific teaching.”
Tags: art, Chicano, English Literature, Farm and Labor Organization Committee, Hispanic Americans, Homer to Homeboy, Latino, Latinos, Manuel Caro, Maria Rodriguez-Winter, Mexican Americans, Poetry, Sofia Quintero Art and Culture Center, SQACC