“I am grateful, particularly for the opportunity to make a life as an openly gay man, for the opportunity to start a family through adoption, for the opportunity to make a living as a theater artist. And yet, I have had to learn to discern that, just like Colombia, the United States is a land of opportunism, a land of oppression with an ugly colonial past built on genocide, on slavery, on indentured servitude, on racial injustice.”
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Mi nombre es Antonio Ocampo-Guzman, profesor titular y jefe del Departamento de Teatro.
My name is Antonio Ocampo-Guzman, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theater. This is my voice.
I acknowledge that I am speaking to you from the unceded territory of the Wampanoag and the Massasoit people. I recognize my privilege as a cisgendered male, the privilege of my physical and mental abilities, the privilege of being someone who sometimes passes for white, the privilege of my education and of my academic position. I am paid well for doing what I love. I teach courses in actor training, including voice and speech, and improvisation. I direct plays and operas. I coordinate the graduate program in creative practice leadership. I accepted the places where I don’t have as much privilege. I am an immigrant from Colombia. English is my second language. I have been mocked for my accent. Everybody has an accent. I married another man in Boston. In 2009, my husband and I adopted a Black infant boy through the Department of Children and Families in 2013. Our Max is a proud alum of the Northeastern Children’s Center. He attends a Boston public school.
The professional world of theater is in deep uproar—in part because of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the arts, in part because of the systemic racism. The Department of Theater at Northeastern is changing to better align itself with the realities of the professional world, and to be a thriving participant in the life and scope of this university. We have much to do to be more inclusive, more respectful of our students of color, of our Black students. Sometimes I get it all wrong. It is hard to walk my talk. It is easy to make mistakes, to miss steps, to not communicate clearly, to not listen deeply. And yet I must. We must. Sometimes I get a few things right.
Growing up in Colombia, I was presented with the idea that the United States, not America— America is a continent, not a country—with the idea that the United States as the land of opportunity. And it has been for me, indeed. And I am grateful— particularly for the opportunity to make a life as an openly gay man, for the opportunity to start a family through adoption, for the opportunity to make a living as a theater artist. And yet, I have had to learn to discern that, just like Colombia, the United States is a land of opportunism, a land of oppression with an ugly colonial past built on genocide, on slavery, on indentured servitude, on racial injustice. Just like Colombia, a land of promise to immigrants, but only for those from certain parts of the world, a land of consumerism and waste, just like Colombia. And I have benefited from all of that. I need to be much more careful, much more mindful, much more attentive in order to help to dismantle that system, and help to build a more equitable and inclusive university, a more equitable and inclusive world—for and [14.2s] with my students, for and with my colleagues, for and with my husband, and above all, for and with my son.
Max’s story is unusual, extra ordinary. I have learned of the profound injustice that surrounds the social services, the messy truth of adoptions, and I have learned the mysterious joys of being a father, of being his papa. I know that our family joy is built upon the painful misfortune of another family. I am learning very quickly what it means, what it takes to raise a Black man in this country, to raise him to be a man of integrity who treats women with respect, who treats everyone with respect, and who is treated with respect, as well. I am faced with a basic fear for his welfare and for his survival. I advocate strongly for him every day, everywhere. Let’s work together, Northeastern. Let’s make this right.
I am a voice at Northeastern.
Soy una voz en Northeastern.