Breaking Barriers, Building Community, 2024

Breaking Barriers, Building Community: 35 Years of Training Social Change Scholars

What is the relevance of the academy to achieving social justice? What does it mean to be a social change scholar? How can the academy be (re-)made to reflect the diversity and complexity of society, where students and communities have active voices and roles in shaping the pedagogy, research approaches, and policy production of the research university? For more than four decades, ISSI's Graduate Fellows Program has provided mentorship, training and support to doctoral students engaged in social change scholarship.

This one-day symposium features the current first-year Graduate Fellows sharing their work in progress. Each panel includes one faculty respondent.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024, 9am-3pm

2111 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA #104 (in-person only)


(abstracts and respondent bios are below, and presenter bios are linked below)

9-11: Panel 1

"Stop Asian Hate": Manufacturing Fear and Carceral Anti-Racism by Cathy Hu

Sonic Sovereignty and Social Movements: Music and Activism During the Alcatraz Occupation by Ever Reyes

Learning to Feel: Latino Boys Navigate the Cultural (Education) Politics of Affect by Aukeem Ballard

Respondent: Christian O. Paiz, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

11-11:30: Coffee and pastries

11:30-1: Panel 2

Representing Resistance: Oakland Housing Visual Imaginaries and Collaborative Filmmaking Praxis by Clara Pérez Medina

Unveiling the Voices of Black Postpartum Patients; Insights into Needs and the Future of Postpartum Care by Renee Clark

Respondent: Tina K. Sacks, Associate Professor, School of Social Welfare, UC Berkeley

1-1:30: Lunch

1:30-3: Panel 3

Party with a Purpose: An Examination of Work-related Social Events and Career Returns by Jasmine M. Sanders

Urban Oil Afterlives: Reckoning with Risk and Responsibility in the Los Angeles City Oil Field by Caylee Hong

Respondent: Diana Reddy, Assistant Professor of Law, Berkeley Law, UC Berkeley

Sponsored by: Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

ISSI gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the College of Letters and Sciences and from the Graduate Division, which makes it possible for us to give modest stipends to our Fellows. Your gift will enable us to increase these stipends.


"Stop Asian Hate": Manufacturing Fear and Carceral Anti-Racism

Cathy Hu

Cathy HuAmid a rise in anti-Asian racism and xenophobia during the pandemic, Asian Americans have grappled to understand the problem of violence against their communities and the role of the criminal legal system in the solution. Rather than focusing on activism around policing or prisons, I turn attention to the criminal court as a new site of intervention where activists push forth competing visions of justice. In the Bay Area, one site where these struggles materialize is in activism around progressive prosecutors. While some activists have organized to elect reform-oriented District Attorneys (DAs) on platforms of reducing racial inequality and ending mass incarceration, others see these DAs as too lenient—including on anti-Asian violence—and have launched campaigns to recall them. In this study, I construct and analyze an archive of materials from activist groups, District Attorney offices, and local news outlets from San Francisco and Oakland between 2020-2024. Specifically, I ask: 1) how do these actors frame the problem of and solution to anti-Asian violence; 2) how do their framings reflect divergent visions of justice; and 3) how do these struggles over justice play out on the stage of criminal court activism? I then discuss implications for developing an Asian American politics that takes seriously racialized violence without falling into the trap of carceral logics and practices.

Sonic Sovereignty and Social Movements: Music and Activism During the Alcatraz Occupation

Ever Reyes

Everado ReyesWhile a large and growing body of literature has investigated the relationship between music and social movements, few scholars focus on the role that radio and music played during the 1969 occupation Alcatraz by the Indians of All Tribes. This paper examines the relationship between radio, music, and political activism emanating from the 1969 occupation. I analyze thirty-nine episodes from the Pacifica archive of the Indian Land Radio (also known as Radio Free Alcatraz) alongside interviews conducted during fieldwork and oral history interviews with organizers, participants, and performers associated with the occupation. I argue that the music of the occupation 1) enacts what Trever Reed (Hopi) calls sonic sovereignty, 2) was a form of education and 3) created a space of joy and possibility that reverberates not only on the island—but alongside Indigenous activism today. I center my research around critical scholarship about voice and sonic sovereignty within music. This paper emphasizes the power of sound archives alongside fieldwork in understanding the present--invoking kinship to the past. Indigenous activists and musicians still return to Alcatraz, showcasing how the activism there is still in progress.

Learning to Feel: Latino Boys Navigate the Cultural (Education) Politics of Affect

Aukeem Ballard

Aukeem BallardResearch studies conceptualize Latinx boys in schools as a marginalized population, often focusing on the plights that surround Latino boys.  Accordingly, studies explore the linkages and correlations among school programming aimed at ameliorating long-standing educational outcome discrepancies.  Such programming solutions include Social Emotional Learning (concretized emotional competencies), prosocial behavior development, and normative school outcome measures.  This paper analyzes the lived emotional experiences of students as they unfold inside the context of being racialized and gendered subjects in a schooling system that has rendered affect as a function of social norms and state-regulated educational goals.  The paper offers insight to the navigation and cultivation of the affective terrains and planes of Latino boys by highlighting the voices and sensemaking of eight public high school Latino boys in an urban city in California’s Bay Area.  The project offers vital insight into the affective world of a group of Latino boys, indicating an imaginary—a more holistic approach to emotionality–which moves beyond merely recognizing and managing their emotions under the guise of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Sociocultural perspectives on Race, Culture and Learning are leveraged alongside the Cultural Politics of Emotions to offer an analysis of how these eight Latino boys are practicing, contesting, (re)producing, and negotiating structural, historical, cultural, and ideological artifacts and tools in the name of affective recovery of the self. Implications for practice and policy are discussed. 

Representing Resistance: Oakland Housing Visual Imaginaries and Collaborative Filmmaking Praxis 

Clara Pérez Medina

Clara Pérez MedinaVisual images stand in for the multi-layered, often obscured choices made behind the camera and the racialized regimes of representation of particular historical and spatial contexts that shape its production. This paper investigates dominant visual representations of Oakland’s housing crisis, examining the visual culture produced around the organization Moms4Housing, which occupied a vacant developer-owned West Oakland home in 2019 to bring attention to the crisis of homelessness and the injustice of holding housing as a commodity. By analyzing visual artifacts such as images, videos, and documentaries of Moms4Housing, this paper examines (1) the dominant visual imaginary that attempted to delineate the political possibilities and impossibilities of a group of Black mothers calling for housing as a human right; and (2) a collaborative film project produced by Moms4Housing organizers, a UC Berkeley research team, and the author that assert a new terrain of visuality that can hold the intergenerational web of political relationality that they practice.

Unveiling the Voices of Black Postpartum Patients; Insights into Needs and the Future of Postpartum Care

Renee Clarke

Renee ClarkeThis study examines the needs of Black/African American people during the year after giving birth and explores future desires of care. Black birthing people are three to four times more likely to die during pregnancy in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifty-two percent of these mortalities occur up to one year postpartum. Pregnancy and prenatal care have been extensively researched, but many components of care after birth are significantly understudied.  Addressing these gaps is essential to enhance the wellness and distinct preferences of individuals in the fourth trimester.  Exploring patient’s unmet needs helps to bolster the types of services being delivered by healthcare organizations.  The study is based on semi-structured interviews with 18 Black/African American postnatal people in California during a period of one week to one year postpartum.  The selection of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties for this study was informed by their significant representation of Black births within the state. The study explored various facets of the immediate delivery process, the postnatal experience, and future desires for postpartum care.

Party with a Purpose: An Examination of Work-related Social Events and Career Returns

Jasmine M. Sanders

Jasmine SandersDespite efforts to address bias in the workplace, disparities still persist in employee experiences and career outcomes across key demographics like race and gender. Existing research shows that performance evaluations and managerial decision making is rooted in bias and discrimination. In the absence of complete information about employees, decision makers rely on observable behaviors as indicators for less quantifiable characteristics like ‘quality’, ‘passion’, and ‘commitment.’ While work-related social activities, like happy hours and holiday parties, can serve as environments to signal unobservable characteristics that are rewarded in the workplace and foster critical emotional connections among colleagues and managers, do all employees reap the intended benefits of workplace social activities? This study investigates how and to what extent engagement in company-sponsored work-related social activities influence workplace dynamics and employee outcomes, and if these informal engagements serve as mechanisms for inequality for disenfranchised workers. This paper employs data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to ascertain the prevalence of extracurricular events across a nationally-representative sample and analyze participation in these activities across various demographic employee groups. Additionally, this analysis draws upon in-depth interviews with corporate professionals in the U.S. to understand in which industries are work-related social activities most pervasive, which employees are most impacted by extracurricular work activities, and how these events shape employee experiences. By interrogating how work-related social activities might disadvantage certain employee groups, this project is a catalyst to reimagine company events towards more inclusive and accessible spaces for all employees to thrive.

Urban Oil Afterlives: Reckoning with Risk and Responsibility in the Los Angeles City Oil Field

Caylee Hong

Caylee Hong

For over a century, the Los Angeles Basin has extracted, refined, and consumed vast quantities of petroleum. Yet as active drilling wanes here, as land becomes increasingly scarce, and as affordable housing shortages reach record levels, cities must confront the legacies of oil production. This demands accounting for how law co-produces urban infrastructures like oil wells, and with those infrastructures, new kinds of uncertainty and risk. In Vista Hermosa, a neighborhood a mile north of downtown Los Angeles, residents have sought to decommission hundreds of wells in one oil reservoir, the “Los Angeles City Field.” According to residents, the wells buried alongside their homes, schools, and parks are dangerous despite not producing oil for decades. This paper investigates the foundational role of law in creating this legacy of deserted urban oil wells, the work of residents to make visible Vista Hermosa’s petroleum past, and the effects of rapid real estate development in the neighborhood. 

Respondent Bios

Christian O. Paiz is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. He is a U.S. labor historian with a focus on farmworker movements, inter-racial relations, and history methods. His book, The Strikers of Coachella: A Rank-and-File History of the UFW Movement (UNC, 2023), recounts the United Farm Worker movement in California’s Coachella Valley and is based on hundreds of hours of oral history interviews that Paiz conducted as well as analysis of existing oral histories. He draws from Latinx Studies, Asian American Studies, and US labor and social movement history. His recent shorter publications include “There is more to the recording: Oral histories and grief in the Coachella Valley” (Foundry, 2023) and “Essential Only as Labor: Coachella Valley Farm Workers during COVID-19″ (Kalfou, 2021)

Diana ReddyDiana S. Reddy is Assistant Professor of Law at Berkeley Law. Reddy’s research focuses on the regulation of work as a site where critical choices are made about the relationship between American economic commitments and its democratic ideals.  Her recent scholarship has been published in the Yale Law Journal, the Yale Law Journal Forum, and the Emory Law Journal, among others. Some of her shorter pieces are available on the Law and Political Economy blog, examples include “Labor Bargaining and the Common Good” and “Anti-CRT and a ‘Free Market’ in Racial Education.”  Before her return to academia, Diana represented labor unions and workers at the AFL-CIO, Altshuler Berzon LLP, and the California Teachers Association. Diana clerked for Judge Theodore McKee on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Kimba Wood on the Southern District of New York.

Tina K. Sacks

Tina K. Sacks is an associate professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare and Chair of the Center for Research on Social Change. Her fields of interest include racial inequities in health, social determinants of health, and poverty and inequality. She is the author of the book Invisible Visits: Black Middle Class Women in the American Healthcare System (Oxford, 2019). Her articles have been published in academic and popular publications including Race and Social Problems, Qualitative Social Work, Family and Community Health, Health Affairs, the New Yorker, and MSNBC News. Professor Sacks is also the principal investigator of two projects on immigration and health including a bi-national study of migration, labor, and health among indigenous Mexican women in California and Oaxaca, Mexico. She also leads a study of gender dynamics and food stamp participation among Latina immigrants in California.

This event is free and open to the public. If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) in order to fully participate in this virtual event, please contact with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.