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Richard Santana California
Richard Santana

Señor Chocolate, a tough-talking Latino gangster, arrives on stage with trade-mark baggy pants, shades, trench coat and a red bandanna. Using a thick Spanish accent to make his point, he begins with accounts of his personal gang-life experiences to illustrate gang attitudes and behaviors. He challenges his audience to critically assess their own perceptions. He asks them to acknowledge the fact that violence and hopelessness will continue to affect our communities if apathy persists.

After sharing his gang-life experiences, Señor Chocolate presents The Change; an apt metaphor long to be remembered. While shedding his gang clothing, he explains The Change that occurred in his life - and can occur in anyone's life. Richard Santana emerges, dressed in a shirt and tie - as a college graduate, educator, counselor, colleague and friend.

A once tough-talking Latino gangster, now a college-educated, nationally recognized speaker, Richard Santana's journey provides a powerful and graphic illustration of cultural relevance in schools. His moving accounts of his gang-life experiences and how they shaped his beliefs, attitudes and self-expectations are inspiring, unsettling and thought-provoking. He challenges his audience to critically assess their own perceptions and helps them to recognize how these perceptions influence work relationships, effectiveness and productivity.

His message is one of making choices: between hope and hopelessness, between evaluating young people based upon our own standards or accepting them in the context of their own, between giving up on our most challenged youth or truly becoming their advocates.

Founder of Homeboy Goes To Harvard Productions, Richard shares his story as a third generation gang member who went on to earn a Master's degree from Harvard University. He demonstrates to students and educators how he accomplished the change that occurred in his life - the change that can occur in anyone's life.


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  • Celebrate Diversity - Everyone is different (Race, Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Class, Sexual Orientation, etc.). We each bring with us biases formed by our own perceptions, beliefs and values that influence how we interact with one another. The purpose of this presentation is to teach how perceptions and stereotypes prevent each of us from seeing true potential in others.

  • The Winner Within You - Everyone has the power to overcome adverse situations. It requires self reflection, motivation and personal empowerment. This presentation demonstrates how one can overcome difficult circumstances to produce healthy, positive outcomes.

  • The Change - With the pressures of violence, drugs and sex influencing our youth, making healthy choices can sometimes be difficult. Education is the only real deterrent. Designed especially for educators, this presentation focuses on how one can find power through knowledge.

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