On Jan. 3, Uriel Montes learned he would present his research paper at the Western States Communication Association Conference on Feb. 22 to Feb. 25 held in Seattle.
Montes is a first generation college student of color who grew up in the San Diego punk scene. He transferred to CSUSM in fall 2017 with the sole purpose to “get a B.A., play the drums and become an ice cream man.”
With the help of faculty in the communication department, his impact has exceeded more than that.
At the eighth annual Communication and Media Studies: Meet & Greet last fall, assistant communication professor Dr. Antonio De La Garza encouraged Montes to submit his research paper, “The Subtle Inconsistencies, The Conscious vs the Subconscious: An investigation on punk rock and its relationship to racial discrimination,” for consideration of the Western States Communication Association conference.
Originally written for Dr. Gloria Pindi’s Research Methods and Design course, Montes discussed the relationship with aversive racism found at the historical punk venue The Tower Bar located in City Heights. No stranger to the SD music scene, Uriel plays drums in two bands Ash Williams and Le Saboteur and spends much of his time at the venue.
“I frequent Tower bar often. I love the place, however, I am also aware of the racial and social issues that are involved with the scene… I was interested in diving into the racial dynamics that exist there.”
He said his interest with music and representation is what initially inspired the paper. It was after he was enrolled in Dr. De La Garza’s Visual Rhetoric course that he read “Coding Intensive Movement with Technologies of Visibility” by Michael Lechuga. Montes said he learned about the static and friction of how people move around the world “with limitations based on the color of your skin.” This information perfectly supplemented his work and aided in the navigation of his most frequented dive bar in a new way.
“The static is how he explained it, about the way you look, the way you speak, the way you pronounce things, the color of your skin, has a friction to it and that affects the way you move around the world,” said Montes.
Last winter Montes worked countless hours outside of class with the extra help and guidance of Dr. De La Garza. After the process Montes said “…when I submitted [the paper] I felt really good. I was exhausted… Regardless if I was accepted to the conference or not, I was proud of what I did. As it turns out, I am going to the conference so I’m really stoked.”
Montes said he was excited when he got the acceptance letter.
“You enter school not knowing what you’re doing and not realizing what you’re capable of and being able to find professors like Dr. De La Garza, Dr. Pindi and Dr. Spieldenner, having them show you what you can do and capable of, is pretty cool.”
Two parts of his life once separated now merged together as Montes found a way to incorporate what he learned in school then translated into his everyday life.
With just one semester left, Montes will spend the rest of his time at CSUSM involved in the Communication Society and MEChA while balancing school, work and playing in his two bands.
“Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to participate in things outside of class at school. If you hear about that scholarship, hear about that conference, don’t be afraid to go after it. Your professors are there for more than just lectures and grading. They are there to help you become better scholars and better, stronger, confident people,” said Montes.