Look out Law School: Naomi Lopez

Name: Naomi Lopez

Year: 4th

Major: Community and Regional Development

Naomi Lopez is a passionate, smart, and creative member of the Davis community. During her four years, she has immersed herself in a variety of opportunities here at Davis, and along the way has shaped into a motivated and spirited soon-to-be graduate. Her time as a student has made her into a vessel of wisdom and experience, so I sat down with her to get her knowledge and advice.

How did you pick your major? What do you like about it?

I came into UCD as an Environmental Science and Management, but I really struggled my first year, especially because it was the first time in my life that I was so far away from my family. As I was taking the lower division courses, I realized that this was less personal than I thought it was going to be.  An acquaintance told me about CRD because they were also looking into it and I thought that I would try it out as well. The first two CRD courses one needs to take are CRD 1 and 2. The first one focused on the history and technicality of housing policies and the segregation written into the laws, and the second was about race and ethnicity and how privilege works within these communities.

I learned a lot and I definitely thought that this was the major for me. And I still do. But now, I see that it is also very problematic. We study a lot of theory and do a lot of research on real communities, especially low income, and predominantly brown and black folks. However, I still feel like we dehumanize the true experiences of these people. We don’t bring up the white savior complex and how it is very prominent in this major. One cannot just come into a community they have assumptions about, “fix it” and leave. These communities are deeply rooted in historical oppression and segregation through policies and social norms and can be dated back to colonialism. We address white privilege (vaguely, very vaguely) but do not address that white fragility is real and is holding us back from truly uncovering the deep layers of problems that these communities face. I don’t see many of my white classmates being active in spaces like the CCC or the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center and volunteering for the events that they put up. It’s important to be there and learning to not take up too much space— rather, be an ally.

How has Davis prepared you for life after undergraduate schooling?

Honestly, the resources and orgs are there if you ask and look for them. My major department has an internship coordinator that is constantly sending out jobs and internships available as well as the organizations that I’m in. The SCC also has a lot of resources available for students, especially for students of color. I think Davis has prepared me by teaching me how to network and taking the risk of applying to all the things that interest me.

My separate peer communities have taught me to stay resilient and to keep fighting for what is right no matter what the backlash may be. They have taught me that our existence in itself is resistance. The work that our communities do is valid.

What are you involved with on campus? What aspects do you like about each of these things?

I am in:

Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh!

Unitrans

M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán)

La Raza Pre-Law Association

I made some of my closest friends in these organizations. Such amazing minds and motivated people who are down for the cause.   They are all very different and it’s nice to have such separate environments and variety of good people. We strive together, we struggle together, we overcome and we thrive.

How do you handle all the things you are involved in and school?

Time management is very difficult but essential. Planning each day by time and hour is very helpful, but it’s important to take time to recharge. It can be overwhelming at times, but I think surrounding yourself with the right people who are your support system and remembering that as long as you put effort into your future and yourself, whatever that may be, at whatever pace you need to; that things will work out in the end. We just need to be patient with yourself.

What do you wish you could change about Davis?

I would honestly change so much (in a perfect, anti-capitalist world right), but I want the people of Davis to stop feeling so entitled because of the rumor that Davis is so liberal and radical. Davis is made to be a bubble on purpose and it is extremely classist and elitist. They need to acknowledge their positionality, privilege and whiteness. So much is still unspoken and people need to stop tokenizing the small population of folks here to make it as if Davis is so accepting of anything and anyone. It’s one thing to say you’re accepting of folks and another to fully address the institutional oppressions and the internalization of stereotypes and racism. I’ve definitely known of businesses that have been straight up unjust to POC and no one had actually done anything about it. Stop sweeping real issues under the rug.

In 10 years, what do you want your life to look like?

First off, not being broke. Hope I’m an attorney with a kick ass staff by then. But it’d be amazing to work for an organization like Centro Legal de La Raza or start an organization similar to it. They do community education and outreach regarding legal status and community lawyering, as well as legal advice for low-income undocumented folks. 

What’s one last thing you want to do before you get that degree?

I want to create art. I am too shy to perform spoken word poetry, but I have always wanted to. Also go to salsa night at The Grad with the homies.

One memory at Davis you will never forget?

We #firedKatehi.

Any parting words?

Don’t be afraid to truly express yourself and your true feelings. Unless they’re racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, etc. Educate yourself.

Stay loud, brown and proud.

 

All phots credited to: Claudia Serenno