Logan Downing / The Collegian
CSU Long Beach professor and poet, James Manseau Sauceda, speaks to Fresno State students after his poetry reading on Friday in the Alice Peters CSU Long Beach professor and poet, James Manseau Sauceda, speaks to Fresno State students after his poetry reading on Friday in the Alice Peters Auditorium.
By Xitaly Ocampo
Special to The Collegian
“In Lak’ech,” is a saying used by the Mayans to greet one another, and it is how James Manseau Sauceda began his poetry reading about cultural injustice facing Chicanos on campus Friday.
Sauceda is a third-generation Mexican-American and in addition to being a communications professor at California State University, Long Beach, he is the director of the university’s Multicultural Center. His reading was in addition to the diversity training he held earlier on Friday.
Sauceda’s reading attempted to drive the point of that societal norms affect cultural differences.
“In our society we are taught to not see ourselves in one another as oppose to other cultures,” Sauceda said.
Sauceda read his own poetry along with that of acclaimed poets and students of his as well.
“Earlier today, we had a workshop that tried to bridge culture and experience. The poems I shared continue that story and sense of loyalty,” Sauceda said.
Many of the poems read discussed some of the every day problems Chicanos face in America. Chicanos experience not only racism and labeling from American society, but also from within their own community, Sauceda said.
“One of the things we hide from the world when we talk about issues of culture and race is intraethnic racism within our own families and cultures,” Sauceda said. “Until we learn to deal with that, and realize we all share the same suffering and admit it, we can’t have a deeper healing.”
Sauceda also read a poem he was inspired to write after his visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
“The museum gives the story and background of every person who gave their life for rights you and me take for granted,” he said. “I wrote ‘Martin in Memphis’ so I could carry that transformation with me and give to as many people as possible.”
At the end of his reading Sauceda said the millennial generation needs to be more active and let their voice be heard in social causes for all minorities, not only Chicanos.
“We need to stand up for our brothers and sisters of all kinds,” Sauceda said. “We are a composite of cultures.”
Elena Rios, a communications major at Fresno State, agreed with Sauceda’s views and found his reading to be inspirational.
“It holds truth to a lot of the issues we have faced, not only here in the [Central] Valley and California, but between races and cultures as well,” she said.
Rios, said she believes it is important to bring out awareness of these issues because it is something that does not happen very often.
Asha Johnson, a psychology major, said the reading was thought provoking.
“It made me realize that every culture has different battles they are struggling with, and it was nice to see that explained through poetry,” Johnson said.
Sauceda said he hopes to come back to Fresno State for another reading.