A Conversation on Race Beyond the Black & White: Asian, Indigenous, Asian Indian and Latinx Perspectives on Inequity & Exclusion
Historically, much of the conversations about racial issues in the U.S. has been centered around white and black interactions. But in order to really talk about race, we have to include all BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) groups. Join us as we will look at race through the lens of Asian American, Asian Indian, Indigenous individuals, and Latinx. We understand that no one speaks for their entire community, but we can all learn from the various perspectives that will be discussed.
About the Presenters:
Alvon Griffin was born of the Powhatan American Indian tribe. His life’s work has been to celebrate and share Native American music and culture, collaborate with artists of many cultures and use my craft to serve our most vulnerable populations.
Alvon is a recording artist and a classically-trained musician. He plays the drum set and he is a percussionist specializing in Brazilian instruments. He has taught batucada-style percussion to youth using African & “Latin” rhythms and has a jazz background too. His diverse musical background makes me a sought-after accompanist with local venues, other musicians and he has recorded with many artists including Manfredo and Phil Fest, Kenny Drew, Thomas Carabasi and Halcyon.
22 years ago, Alvon created a mathematical system to teach hip hop rhythms, using buckets & sticks, as part of a teaching artist collaborative and research project to reach and heal at risk youth.
Alvon is an independent contractor for Stageworks, a non-profit which contracts with organizations that serve neglected, abandoned and abused youth in the Tampa Bay area. He uses bucket drumming as a vehicle to teach anger management and conflict resolution to help children, teens and adults work through trauma.
Alvon has also volunteered at a community radio station (WMNF Tampa) as a DJ with a Native American artist music, stories and news show called “Two Worlds Indigenous Radio”. He plays exclusively native artists to give them a voice and access to media. He has hosted shows at WMNF for over 20 years.
Meriel Martínez (she/ella) is a trainer and facilitator, specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. Areas of particular focus for her include professional development, youth empowerment, and LGBTQ+ issues. Of Puerto Rican descent, she is grateful for having been raised in a culturally affirming community in Newark, NJ.
Meriel began her professional journey as an editor for a major educational publisher. Years later, a family move to Virginia presented her with the opportunity to convert her long-standing passion for equity and justice into a career. Meriel was the Logistics Coordinator for the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network’s (VALHEN) 2014 Hispanic College Institute and went on to serve on their Board, experiences that solidified her desire to serve her community. She joined the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities in 2015 as a trainer and facilitator. In that that role, she designed and facilitated educational programs on diversity, equity and inclusion for schools, workplaces, and communities across the state. In 2017, Meriel moved to Tampa, where, both professionally and as a volunteer, she continues to focus on building community. Today, she is Program Director at the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay.
Meriel earned her M.A. in Speech and Interpersonal Communication from New York University. She studied at both Chestnut Hill College and William Paterson University, where she completed her B.A. in Communication.
Carmen Ye is the Head of People, Culture, and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) at Make School in San Francisco. Make School is redesigning higher education for the 21st century, and offers a 2.5-year Bachelor’s in Applied Computer Science. The majority of students at Make School come from low- to mid-income families, while nearly half identify as underrepresented minority students. As Head of People, Carmen leads integration of a JEDI lens into staff and student operations, learning and development, culture and organizational design, and morale-building.
Previously, Carmen was the Director of People Operations at LaunchCode, a national non-profit building a skilled workforce by creating pathways for driven people seeking careers in technology. She was responsible for ensuring equity, strengthening culture, driving talent, and managing human resources. During Carmen’s time at LaunchCode, the organization was a 2019 and 2020 honoree in the St Louis Women’s Foundation Women in the Workplace scorecard. This distinction recognizes employers who are committed to gender equity and initiatives to support women in the workplace. LaunchCode was also featured in Forbes’ 2019 Best Startup Employers.
Carmen holds a Master of Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Her policy interests include diversity, equity, and inclusion, leadership development, and identity formation among Asian Pacific Americans. Her personal interests include traveling, baking, and learning new languages, with fluency in Cantonese, Spanish, and Mandarin.