Diana Velazquez

#1: Diana

Diana Velazquez recorded a conversation with the Stories team during the African American Read-In at IU Bloomington's Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on February 5, 2018.

Description of the video:

I’ve always been very passionate about education. There’s a lot of inequalities in our education system, and I feel that as a first-gen college student, it’s my responsibility to be able to work toward equity within our education system. 
The African American Read-In is on campus today at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, and you're attending today.
I am. I'm really excited.
Why are you excited?
I'm excited because I was in public school K-12, and we've always talked about Black History Month, but we just talked about it. We never did anything related to it, like any activities. And I think this is just such an empowering experience. And so I feel like it's really important to have these spaces where individuals feel safe and feel challenged to explore these issues. It's such a unique opportunity. I think a lot of times, we often center Anglo-centered authors within our country, and there's just so much richness in the diversity of all our authors. And so you can learn so much from the people around you and from the authors. During my undergraduate years I read this book called Forged Under the Sun, and it was the first time where I read a book where the protagonist is actually a Mexican-American woman. And I remember that night I couldn't sleep because I was so excited that I was reading this book. And I realized, that for so many years, I have lacked this for myself. I had never felt empowered that way, and that was shocking to me. As if I had, like, found something that I had lost that I had no idea was even there. And so I think this really made me value having diverse perspectives available for individuals, and for individuals of diverse backgrounds to feel empowered and feel like they have a place in this country. 
If you could make a lasting impact in just one way, what would it be?
Through education, for sure. Yeah, it's to make school accessible and also to make it relevant to students and for them to feel empowered.

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