Central American Disruption founder advocates for disruption of disinformation – The Cavalier Daily
Central Americans for Empowerment at U.Va. hosted Central American Disruption founder Sussan Garcia on Thursday evening for a discussion on the issue of disinformation in the Central American education system. COFFEE at U.Va. is a student organization that seeks to empower Central American students through advocacy and cultural and political education.
Garcia, who got a Fulbright assistant in 2020, founded Central American disturbance in July 2019 as an online space and resource for Central Americans for people to search for more information about specific events and cultures in Central America. Garcia took inspiration from the art and beauty of Central America – @centam_beauty on Instagram – a digital community that covers stories about different Central American cultures. While Garcia said she enjoyed the space, she felt there were information gaps that she tried to fill with the creation of Central America Disruption.
Garcia spoke of her childhood in a Central American community in Queens, New York, where there were not many whites and where she was mostly surrounded by Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans. After going to a predominantly white private school in seventh grade, Garcia said she faced discrimination and felt there was a need to assimilate into white culture.
Garcia specifically referred to an incident that occurred during her first semester at school while chatting with a white classmate.
“He started to answer in English but with a Spanish accent, completely mocking, completely derogatory, yelling in my face a little bit, and I was shocked and I got really angry,” she said. “The administration quickly berated him, but you know, it always happens.”
After facing many challenges related to assimilation and cultural re-education, Garcia began to embrace the Latinidad community and once again gain an appreciation for its culture. Being a part of this community, Garcia said she was also able to learn about her own Guatemalan heritage by learning about specific events such as the Guatemalan coup and the Palestinian liberation Movement.
Lack of education about different cultures by Dalton School, the predominantly white private school Garcia attended, led Garcia to start the CentAm Collective. CentAm Collective was later renamed to Central American disturbance with a more politicized framework and a radical education. The goal of the website was to create a new community that would help provide historical information.
At first, posting articles on topics such as the history of tortillas and cultural events, Garcia said people visiting the site very quickly contacted her and informed her that she was using the wrong information. She said she was appalled by this because the information came from academic articles, which caused her to be frustrated with the education system.
“Universities and mainstream media and the like… have really distorted the portrayal and reporting of Central America,” Garcia said.
Garcia said that ultimately she seeks to educate the world about Central American politics, economics and culture. It focuses on the diaspora in the world, which refers to the widespread settlement of migrants beyond their homeland. 4.4 million Central Americans uprooted and migrated to a new country, or 18% of the world population in Central America.
Garcia said she wanted more information on specific events, cultural history and politics to come from direct sources and the communities involved rather than scholarly articles whose information was often incorrect.
“[I hope] to disrupt the status quo of disinformation, ”Garcia said.
Garcia strives to have accurate information that anyone can access on their website in order to be more educated and informed about Central American culture. She gathers information from many sources, including the Committee for Solidarity with the People of El Salvador – an activist organization that fights for social and economic justice in El Salvador – and the Network of Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, an organization which likewise supports the Guatemalans in their struggle for justice and human rights.
Moving forward, Garcia said his goal is to create transnational solidarity between many cultures and share many voices.