The professor finds space for underrepresented communities in punk rock | Campus News

Making room for historically excluded communities is at the forefront of Marilyn Ríos Hernández’s work as an educator and organizer.

Rios-Hernandez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chicana Studies in her first year of teaching at Cal State Fullerton. Her areas of expertise focus on the punk subculture and its connection to the evolution of policing through the eyes of Black, Chicana, and Latina women and girls.

Rios Hernandez’s interest in punk music began after 9/11 when her brother was deployed to two tours during the Iraq War.

“Being in the punk scene has become as much a political commitment as it has become a personal commitment to self-preservation,” said Rios Hernandez.

Rios-Hernandez liked the punk to reflect a link between her mental health journeys and her identity as a first-generation Chicana college student. I found a sense of belonging within the punk community, because it was made up of people who also felt ostracized by their identities.

“Punk doesn’t easily repeat itself twice. It exists very uniquely when heard live,” said Rios Hernandez. “I find a lot of kinship with that kind of uniqueness.”

Rios Hernandez was drawn to ethnic studies because of her personal experiences and the impact of the Iraq War on herself and her self-education in politics.

According to her mother, Maria Elena Ríos, Ríos Hernández has always been an advocate for human rights. Rios said her daughter helped immigrant students who did not speak English when she was younger. Although she believed that Rios Hernandez would become a lawyer, Rios motivated her daughter to pursue her aspirations.

She linked her experience with strikes protesting the Iraq War with the withdrawal during the Chicano movement, and considered them part of the lineage. At community college, she met feminists, LGBT people, and people of color who spoke in a language she could understand and listen to — along with the music she loved.

“I live in a certain moment where things feel directly affected by politicians I have never met, who are nothing like me, and I just need to find an explanation of this frustration as to why this is happening and why this is happening,” said Rios Hernandez.

Her research focuses on the history of punk culture in Southern California from the 1970s to the 21st century after the end of the Counterintelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, an FBI program that attempted to discredit organizations such as the Black Panther Party. . Rios Hernandez also researches the police crackdowns on the punk scene in Southern California during the 1970s and 1980s.

Rios-Hernandez said the goal of her research is to show that there is always a place for people of color, indigenous peoples, the LGBTQ community, and women, even if they are not represented in history books or mainstream consciousness.

Rios Hernandez was receiving her Ph.D. from UC Riverside when she founded PunkCon, a bi-annual, backyard academic conference focused on diverse artists, musicians, activists, and scholars. She founded the conference with Susana Sepulveda, a graduate student in the doctoral program in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona.

Sepúlveda and Ríos Hernández had similar goals of giving back to their communities and building a bridge between punk and their academic lives. They aimed to showcase their sinister communities, specifically people of color, women of color, and people who identify as LGBTQ.

“It was like viewing the communities that we are a part of and are not always seen as interconnected or interconnected, but that is our reality for us,” Sepulveda said. “So we really showcase our punk communities, specifically people of color, women of color and gays in punk who aren’t often featured in mainstream punk narratives and really create space for them.”

They co-organized the first PunkCon in Spring 2019 while Rios-Hernandez was at UC Riverside and Sepulveda was in Tucson, Arizona. The event was held in person at the University of California, Riverside. To make the event as accessible as possible and mitigate any occasional escorts, they made attendance free and provided food. Several guest speakers who participated in the punk scene appeared at the event, such as Alice Bag and two members of the band F—U Pay Us.

The second PunkCon was a roundtable held on Zoom last year with moderator Richard T. Rodriguez of the University of California Riverside, guest speaker Chrissy Martinez, and other people involved in the punk scene and academia. The third PunkCon will be held locally next spring.

Rios-Hernandez hopes other events like PunkCon will be repeated across many universities, genres, and communities.

Rios-Hernandez is currently working on a book that will cover a historical arc from the 1970s through the 2000s. The book will include commentary on TV shows of color villains, horror genre and punk acting, and interviews with black and black villains.

Alexandru c. Gradilla, associate professor of Chicana/o studies at CSUF, said Rios-Hernandez has been a great addition to CSUF.

“Dr. Gradilla said that Ríos Hernández’s interest in music and alternative forms of politics and everyday resistance will appeal to many students because she bases her knowledge and teaching on popular forms that students will identify and connect with.

Studies professor Chicana/o sees herself as the source of the so-called “strange kids” on campus. Rios-Hernandez hopes to convey to students that there is someone who understands the importance of alternative scenes and the importance of carrying out these types of studies with the same weight as other areas that might be taken more seriously.

“If you’re a stranger, I want to meet you,” said Rios Hernandez. “Because you have a right to be here, and I want to be the one to remind people that they have a place.”

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