Second Annual Race and Media Conference 2015

Dr Angharad Valdivia, answering questions after her keynote speech.
Dr. Angharad N. Valdivia, answering questions after her keynote speech. Image: John Acosta

Students and scholars packed UNM’s Honda Auditorium to listen to Dr. Angharad N. Valdivia’s keynote speech about contemporary media issues; her speech kicked off the second annual Race and Media Conference last Thursday.

The Race and Media Conference spanned three days, from September 24 through September 26, and gave well-known scholars a chance to share research in a space especially created for working through challenging questions about race.

“I must admit I’m quite a bit intimidated by all of your collective scholarship,” said Valdivia before giving her keynote speech. “As soon as I saw who was coming here I tried to gather as much of your research as possible so I would not be saying something that made you think if only she read my latest publication.”

Most participants that were invited to the Race and Media Conference made the trip to New Mexico from different universities across the U.S.

“The goal is mostly to get all of this ridiculously brilliant people here,” said Dr. Myra Washington, organizer of the event. “I think Albuquerque is a little bit isolated and so we don’t have as many speakers or talks to come in as I think college campuses should, and so this was a chance to get like forty people who folks at UNM would probably never get to hear…it’s a chance to hear about how media really impacts how we think about people and then how we treat those people.”

Christopher Ramirez, UNM graduate student and Community Organizer, believes that the Race and Media Conference gives different scholars the ability to network with other faculty across the nation.

“It is an incredible opportunity to learn from and network with faculty of color from all over the country because often there’s only one Latino, one Asian faculty and highlights more diversity of research and theories well also promoting intersectionality and critical analysis,” said Ramirez.

Richard Schaefer, UNM Mass Communication Associate Professor, believes that this conference helps students figure out difficult academic concepts.

“I think the purpose of this conference is to help undergraduate and graduate students, and reinforce concepts that are buzzing around academia these days and across our political lines too,” said Schaefer.

The conference included panels of scholars who discussed topics ranging from Latino/a representations, Asian American representations, multiculturalism, sexuality, ethnicity, and racism.

Savannah Serna, Interdisciplinary Communication Senior Student, attended the panel about Latino/a representations and found them to be both insightful and informative.

“I thought it was important that they discussed the brown aspect in Latino and Latina communities, and how that relates to the audience in different forms of the media,” said Serna. “I think these discussions are extremely important and informative.”

Kerry Kortkamp, Interdisciplinary Communication Senior Student, was amazed by the discussion about race and sexuality.

“I think it’s amazing how they can take something so novel like social media platforms and show how there are gender discrimination and race discrimination in these platforms,” said Kortkamp. “It would be beneficial to see how gender and race are socialized.”

Students want the race and media conference to be an ongoing annual event at UNM.

“This is something that needs to be addressed,” said Graham Unverzagt, Geography and Environmental Science senior student. “I definitely want the conference to be back.”

“I want this conference to continue every year here at UNM,” said Kortkamp.

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