After the library’s slate of antiracism conversations from 2020-2021, BAPL’s Janine Carambot Santoro sought to answer the question that many of our community members had: “Now that we know better, what do we do now?”
Dr. Melinda González, a fellow colleague from Rutgers University, an anthropologist, and winner of the 2021 Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster Award, graciously accepted the task to speak to our community about methods of organizing around using community and art spaces (like the library) to foster change. “We are seeking to learn from the experiences of those that survived Hurricane Maria and attempting to address specific issues in this session that affect our Puerto Rican and broader Latinx community,” Janine stated. “While this will take place during Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to highlight that Latinx stories and lived experiences are important all year long– our efforts to educate and create tangible change will outlast these autumn months. We want to make clear that Dr. González’s work is not to be tokenized, but celebrated and implemented in the years to come in a city with a resilient and creative Puerto Rican and Latinx population.”
We give thanks to our generous sponsors who have made this event possible: Moravian University’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Latino Leadership Alliance of the Lehigh Valley, Northampton Community College, and Carol and Carlos Lopez.
More about Dr. Melinda González:
Dr. Melinda González, a native of Newark, New Jersey with ancestral home in Moca, Puerto Rico, is an Afro-Indigenous scholar-activist-poet of Puerto Rican descent. She is a socio-cultural anthropologist, focused on environmental anthropology, whose work maps how disaster is differentially distributed across race, class, and gender, and she brings decolonial and indigenous research methods to the study of new media technologies in environmental justice studies. Her dissertation research “Rhyming Through Disaster” examines the lived experiences of Hurricane Maria survivors in Puerto Rico and New York and their long-term disaster recovery efforts through the use of digital space, poetry, and community organizing. Her next project, tentatively titled, “Urban Water Wars,” will address racial disparities in the ongoing water crisis in urban centers of the United States, with particular focus on Newark, New Jersey.
Melinda received her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Barnard College, Columbia University in May 2007, where she pursued undergraduate research on the role of women in the New York Chapter of the Puerto Rican revolutionary civil rights organization, The Young Lords Party. In October 2012, Melinda graduated with a master’s degree in Anthropology from Rutgers University – The State University of New Jersey where she pursued research on poetry and hip hop as tools of resistance against femicide and colonial repression in Oaxaca City, Mexico and in San Juan, Puerto Rico. While a student at LSU beginning in August 2016, Melinda served as research assistant to Dr. Micha Rahder on a collaborative multi-sited ethnographic research project, entitled “Maya Forest Futures: Violence, Uncertainty, and Transnational Biodiversity Conservation in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.” Melinda has engaged in collaborative ethnographic writing and research on feminist anthropological approaches to creating research methods for anthropologists with disabilities and single parents in the academy.
Melinda received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Louisiana State University in May 2021. Beginning Fall 2021, she is a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University.
She is a performance / spoken word poet that has performed internationally, and a practitioner of the Brasilian martial art capoeira.
Melinda believes that decolonizing the academy starts with providing graduate students and contingent faculty with livable wages and access to free medical and mental health care.