Fighting for My Community, One Video at a Time

By Berania Barraza

Editor’s Note: Coachella Uninc. youth reporter, Berania Barraza uses media to uplift stories from her community, the Eastern Coachella Valley. She was recently accepted into Fusion’s “Rise Up: Be Heard” fellowship program. Through the fellowship, she traveled to Miami to meet Jorge Ramos, news anchor for Univision. In this personal narrative, Berania describes how she first discovered the power of media while in high school. Read her story below.

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to do something for my community, but I never knew how to make a difference.

One day, my friend invited me to join a club at school. Once I opened the door, I was in awe. I smelled the coffee the moment I stepped in the room and I saw students working on videos and discussing a project they were working on.

Once they were aware of my presence, everyone welcomed me with open arms and they started introducing themselves. Once introductions were over they filled me in on their agenda. They were currently in the middle of creating a documentary dedicated to the Eastern Coachella Valley.

I learned about the importance of fighting for social justice through the medium of film making

After everyone went back to their posts, Mr.Garza, the advisor of the film group F.I.R.M.E (Film. Inquiry. Research. Media. Education), approached me since I was the only new member. I probably looked out of place since I had never worked with film before. He asked me what my dream was, so I told him that I wanted to become a news correspondent. He told me that the best news correspondents were the ones who used a critical lens.

At first I didn’t understand what he meant but after he assigned me to shadow the seniors as they were working, I began understanding what he meant by using a ‘critical lens.’ After reviewing the interviews the students were editing, I began understanding that there’s more to reporting than just writing what you see. It’s about asking critical questions and understanding the material as it’s being given to you.

When I entered the classroom I thought I was going to learn how to edit videos and use a camera, but I learned so much more. I learned about the importance of fighting for social justice through the medium of film making. I even began going out more, something I was afraid of doing as an undocumented person.

Through this group I began creating videos dedicated to my community. I was creating content that mainstream media wouldn’t give a second glance but that was important to our community.

Even now I use the basic skill sets and critical thinking that I was taught in F.I.R.M.E. The group opened doors for me that I would have never thought of opening. I never thought that four years after I first stepped into that room, I would still be dedicating my time creating media from my community, the Eastern Coachella Valley.

About the Author: 

Berania Barraza loves to live on the edge. Though she’s allergic to gluten she loves to eat doughnuts. Another fact is that she loves learning about other cultures. She’s currently fluent in Spanish and English and can even introduce herself in Korean, Japanese and French. Her goal is to one day become fluent in five languages.Career wise she hopes to become the first DACA recipient to become a foreign news correspondent.

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