Ricardo Bracho uses his words to change the world.
During a 24-year journey, Bracho became a nationally renowned queer and Chicano playwright, essayist, producer, dramaturge, educator and organizer who speaks up for social justice — battling issues ranging from racial inequality to unjust wars.
Featured through the Hallie Ford Literary Series, Bracho will share his multimedia auto-genealogy titled, “#KWEEN, I Just Need to Know Your Journey” with the Willamette and Salem communities Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hatfield Room of the Hatfield Library. The event is free and open to the public.
Through the literary series, members of Willamette’s English Department bring short story writers, poets, novelists and others to campus each year to share their work and discuss the writing process with students.
“Bracho’s talk will help students think through the connections among art, social justice and theory, a balance Bracho has modeled for me and other current and former students of his talks, plays and other writings,” says Roy Pérez, who worked with English professor Scott Nadelson to bring Bracho to campus.
Pérez, who teaches in the English, American Ethnic Studies, and Women’s & Gender Studies departments at Willamette University, has followed Bracho’s work for more than 10 years. Now, he says, is the perfect time to bring the speaker to campus.
“Bracho’s background as a playwright, activist and theorist will bring a new kind of cultural work to the Hallie Ford series,” Pérez says. “In addition to an award-winning playwright, Bracho is a phenomenal teacher and thinker.
“His wit and smarts, and the way he moves between highbrow and low, popular and esoteric, are sure to make the night fun and thought-provoking.”
Going beyond a typical memoir, Bracho says he plans to walk the audience through his experiences as a playwright, public health worker and politically active student in Berkeley, Calif.
“While this is a linear and chronological narrative description of my proposed talk, the presentation will be anything but. It will zigzag between time and place, fiction and memoir, social justice and sexual pleasure,” Bracho says.
Pérez says Latina/o studies at Willamette have become a vibrant, inter-departmental area of inquiry, particularly in terms of activism and social studies. He believes Bracho will bring new and important ideas about latinidad to Willamette’s campus.
“Art and performance, especially the kind Bracho has given us, adds dimension and complexity to conversations about latinidad — a word that lets us ask not just who is Latina/o, but what it means to be a person navigating that racial category in the world right now,” Pérez says.