Thoughts by Ramón Pérez, Special to La Prensa

March 28, 2024: A keynote presentation should connect with your audience. People need to be able to resonate with your message and identify with the subject matter. They have to be shaken a little in the way that they think, to get the opportunity to become inspired by it.

It’s the same experience that movie makers and actors try to achieve on the screen. They want us to see and feel ourselves in the characters, to identify with the struggles they’re facing, and to cheer when those struggles are overcome. And judging by the audience’s applause, cheering, and whistles, mission accomplished.

Carlos Andrés Gómez is such an accomplished performer and speaker in so many genres he would require a 500-page bio to fully capture his total essence. However, as a former social worker, public-school teacher and actor he blended in perfectly into the audience with all his accomplished speaking skills.

Although a native New Yorker of Colombian descent, Carlos shared with the audience that: he moved twelve times before graduating high school all the while living in four countries and attending twelve different schools. Carlos eventually obtained his Bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Pennsylvania.

Carlos has spoken and performed at over 300 plus colleges and universities including tours covering Africa, Caribbean, Europe, Middle East, North America, and Bowling Green State University (BGSU).

Carlos Andrés Gómez essentially made a similar observation of a keynote speaker I remembered years back. Which started off by making the following statement, “I am not here to educate you but to obliterate everything you think you know about Indigenous history.” Russell Means, American Indian Movement, made that statement 1979 at the La Union de Estudiantes Latinos (LSU) version of their Annual Latino Issues Conference at BGSU.

Fast forward to 2024, Carlos also alluded to the Universities Ethnic Studies Departments as still having significance and paramount importance not only for white students and academic institutions across the nation but also for Latina/o/x generations coming through the education pipelines as a reminder of their true identity, history and the still unfinished work that needs to be woven into our teaching and learning fabrics K-16 and everyday life. Especially in these hateful times aimed at if you’re not white.

The days event was also filled with informing those in attendance with presentations and panels discussing past and present human and civil rights Latino/a/x issues championed and still not fulfilled. One such panel titled “Activism, Performance, and Protest” was presented by 3 Latinas which really drove the message home why the Latin American and Latino/a/x Studies Cluster, Department of Ethnic Studies, and Office of Multicultural Affairs still have significance and paramount importance on college campuses throughout the nation for all students, faculty, and presidents.

In closing, for over 400 listeners, Carlos made the point “the mere teaching or observation in history of your people is against the law.” The 3 Latinas and Carlos, no matter the societal obstacles, must continue to champion internal and external self-doubts and tear down the walls!

Comments or questions: