In lak Ech means is how I was able to grow in Raza Studies. It taught me how to love myself and taught me to love people of other races. It gave me a way to respect myself, my brown skin and my culture. Panche Be – to seek the root of the truth – is also how I got more into school; it taught me that this is my education and that I must seek the root of the truth. I did this by doing community and school events. I wanted to know about my past and about my ancestors. This I learned in Raza Studies.
Two of the concepts here I learned in Raza Studies at Tucson High School.
Last year I ran from Tucson to Phoenix in 115-degree heat because a bill was introduced to eliminate Raza Studies. It was one attack after another. Many of us talked about running and we talked about how hot it would be, but in the end, we ran as one. When we ran together, it made us not think about the heat. It wasn't about one person running but all of us making a point at the [state] capital.
My 13-14-year-old sister was my inspiration. She hadn't had the classes and she ran with me. She was motivated to save them.
I have been part of protests, vigils and I was arrested this year because a new bill was passed and signed
by the governor. I have no reason to go back to high school but these classes have earned my respect. I want these classes for my three sisters. I don't want them to cook and clean home. This was for them. Nothing's going to stop me. It is my sisters that are motivating me.
Recently, I spoke [keynoted] at a national Indigenous conference where I defended Raza Studies. What caught my eye was that it was professors from all over the world. These classes right now are the focus of the nation and world. I wish there had been more Raza Studies alumni there so they could have heard more stories. After presenting, I know they took back our stories. That's important because the media is not on our side.