When I applied for the Break the Hate Mission, I did not know what to expect. I was born and raised in Venezuela. I am an immigrant, I have brown skin and an accent. I have an identity and a background that is not common to find in western Massachusetts. However, I am not African American nor Jewish and I was not sure how I was supposed to contribute to a conference that was supposed to be about those communities.
I’m really happy I went. Going to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Holocaust Museum was very painful. Seeing the way African Americans and Jews were dehumanized by their oppressors is really difficult and is even more difficult to try to understand how someone can justify inflicting that much pain to another human being. I think it is really important to remember those aspects of history because one day, today is going to be history and I hope in the future I can look back and be relieved that I was on the right side of it.
Going to those museums was eye-opening but the conversations we had were even more eye-opening. We all came from different backgrounds and we were able to learn from our diverse experiences and perspectives but we were also able to relate to each other because beyond our differences there are things that unite us. We are all human. And when we see that a community is being targeted or is in pain, we need to stand in solidarity with them and be allies. Because indifference is dangerous and if we see injustice and do not do anything about it, we are part of the problem. Remember to try to be on the right side of history.
Carla Montilla, UMass Amherst ’21, was born in Venezuela and is now a board member of the UMass College Democrats. She is also a member of the Commonwealth Honors College. She participated on CJP’s Break the Hate Mission to Washington, D.C., this spring.