Last weekend Willamette University hosted the Third Annual Pacific Northwest Students of Color Conference (SOCC), titled “Pass the Mic – Amplifying Our Voices, Ideas, and Actions.” Students from Willamette and nearby colleges, as well as visiting guests, led workshops and lectures that conference participants attended. Participants from Lewis & Clark, Gonzaga University, Reed College, The University of Puget Sound, Pacific University, Linfield College and more attended the conference, staying in campus housing. Willamette students, including the conference’s student chair Brandon Miller (‘19), worked with Willamette’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) to plan the two-day event.
The conference’s keynote speaker was Sandra Hernández-Lomelí, director of Latinos Unidos Siempre, a grassroots organization that advocates for social change and educational development for Salem youth of color. Other guests included S.I.G. and JJ LaFont, a rapper and producer based in Portland who led the workshop “Sounds & Soul: Growing Yourself With Music.” Another guest, Darius Northern, founder of the company People of Colour Clothing, led the workshop “Confidence, Community, and Culture: On Launching Your Own Brand.” Students and staff from participating universities also led workshops, the topics of which ranged from “Representation Matters,” a presentation and seminar that discussed how people of color are represented on T.V. and in movies, to “Kapu Aloha: Lessons from Native Hawaiian Activism,” a discussion led by Willamette student James Kalama (‘21) about using strategies from Kanaka Maoli, or Hawai’i’s Aboriginal People, to cope with the stress of prolonged activism. Willamette students Brandon Miller, Michelle Hicks (‘19), Gia Dacayanan (‘21), Anusha Mannava (‘20) and Kealaulaikalani Gier (‘20) also led workshops.
SOCC’s Facebook page writes that the conference’s goal “is to educate students on diversity and multiculturalism and empower them to be agents of social change in their predominantly white institutions. Together SOCC wants to create a safe space for students with marginalized identities to come together and speak on their experiences, build community across institutions and empower one another.”