The audience at the MSC Student Conference on Latinx Affairs (SCOLA) keynote address delivered by Diane Guerrero, the actress famous for her role in “Orange is the New Black.” (Mark Guerrero/Texas A&M University Marketing & Communications)
“I experienced culture shock because I had never gone anywhere with so many white people, and I had never experienced conservative places where I had the opportunity to interact and form relationships based on our experiences,” she said. “I didn’t know how to navigate that, be myself and be O.K. with the fact that I was different, so I tried to hide a lot.”
Guerrero experienced a serious identity crisis in college. Some semesters she advocated for Brown Power and the necessity to unite and work together, and other semesters, she supported, in frustration, the notion that brown people really had no desire to work. At that time, Guerrero had not benefitted from the counseling that has since helped her to cope with the hardships she experienced.
“We don’t talk about family separation and how that affects mental health,” she said. “How do you love yourself, accept yourself and give yourself the chance to be outstanding when you cannot be honest about who you are, when you can’t be authentic?”
Guerrero encouraged the Latino students in the audience to be honest about their experiences, to approach their arguments armed with information, calmness and love, and to work hard and persevere.
“You are smart, you are doing the right thing by going to school and educating yourselves, and now it’s time to put that to good use,” she said. “Use your voices and be active. Don’t let people who assume [powerful] positions make decisions for you. You have to be active in your future and what happens to you and your family.”
The audience at the MSC Student Conference on Latinx Affairs (SCOLA) keynote address delivered by Diane Guerrero, the actress famous for her role in “Orange is the New Black.”