Suseth Munoz, English/Government/Youth and Community Studies Junior
Name: Suseth Munoz
Major: English/Government/Youth and Community Studies Junior
Programs and activities: Student Member, First-Gen Longhorns; Diversity Coordinator, Senate of College Councils; Equity and Inclusion Policy Director, Student Government; Community Advocate, Jolt Action Committee; Resident Assistant, Jester West
Last July, Interim President Jay Hartzell released a statement detailing a plan to make the campus more diverse and inclusive in response to lists of demands made by the Texas Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a coalition of students, faculty, staff and alumni—including members of The Precursors—who drafted the “8 Demands for Transformative Change.”
Suseth Munoz, is one of several student members of the Senate of College Councils who helped craft the list of demands, which called for a number of actions to make the campus more supportive of Black and Indigenous students of color. Although some demands were unmet Munoz believes the university is moving in the right direction—and that, in time, more change will come.
Munoz chatted with us from her home in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) to share more about her advocacy work on campus and in her community, where she is helping JOLT Action—a Texas-based organization that mobilizes Latinx voters—in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement at protests and rallies.
Two steps forward, two steps back… “It was a winning moment when the university announced the campus changes—including the renaming of the RLM [Robert L. Moore] building. But I’m disappointed they won’t be renaming other buildings like Painter Hall and keeping “The Eyes of Texas” song without clear, concrete steps on how they will teach the racist history of the song. They’re doing all these good things like building a statue of Heman Sweatt, but they’re taking steps backward by placing this statue at the entrance of a building named after an oppressor.”
Amplifying Black voices… “There has been no progress without Black organizers. Those voices need to be uplifted and amplified because their struggles and liberations mean liberation for other oppressed groups in this country. That’s what drives me to support this movement.”
The power of social media… “If you’re curious about what you can do to support the movement, go to social media. So many people can point you to resources and information—like a webinar on antiracism or books to read. If you admire somebody’ work, follow them and see how they’re doing their work and the resources they’re supporting.”
Listen before you leap…“Don’t take up space by following social media trends and leaving it at that. You should be educating yourself and listening to the most marginalized people in the room because they have a the most to say. You should also use your own privilege and platform by amplifying messages by BLM activists.”
Change is coming…“The RGV is 98% Latinx, and we do not face the same oppression as others because the police are Hispanic and almost everybody speaks Spanish. So, it is really easy to be apolitical in this community, but when I went to a Black Lives Matter rally, I was surprised to see more then 500 people in attendance. It felt like change is coming, progress is being made and people are mad about these injustices. People don’t want to be innocent bystanders; they want to take action and show up for each other.”
Recognizing privilege… “As a first-generation immigrant, ESL learner and a woman, I have faced a lot of struggles, but at the same time I have to recognize my privileges in those struggles. Being an immigrant with access to a path to citizenship differs from the struggle of other immigrants. Being light skinned is also a different privilege. You have to recognize these struggles are valid, and you need to show up and rally for people who need help the most because they’ll show up for you in return.”