A new law in California allows for 16-and-17-year-old residents to pre-register to vote. How will this change voter turnout and election results? Do young people care enough to show up to the polls? I talked to students and teachers at Sacramento Charter High School to see what they think.
On Friday, September 8th, UC Davis again hosted the Free Our Dreams event. This Free Our Dreams, like previous events, brought youth from all corners of California, with the help of their adult allies, to come together and have conversations about statewide advocacy strategies for change. The youth came to Davis from as far away as San Diego, Bakersfield, and Eureka.
This event came only a week after President Trump’s decision to repeal the DACA program that supported over 800,000 “dreamers”. The DACA program will be phased out over the next two years.
The DACA program was eligible for undocumented immigrants who had been living in the U.S. before 2007 and were under the age of 30 before 2012. These undocumented immigrants had to be either working or going to school and could not receive federal benefits.
DACA’s removal was a huge topic at this year’s Free Our Dreams event as some of the participants were undocumented or know someone who is. Many youths in attendance are supported by DACA and have many concerns on what to do now.
Throughout the event, there were workshops set up for undocumented youth to participate in and learn more about what happens next. One of these workshops had an undocumented healing circle which allowed youth let out their words and feelings about DACA being repealed through the sharing of personal and emotional stories.
One student from San Francisco City College had more than a few words to say about DACA.
“DACA being revoked was devastating news,” said Cynthia Diaz. “However, DACA was never the solution to what was demanded, but still it offered protection from being separated from this community. I would just want to remind those affected that they are loved and supported, always. We must take initiative to start learning to go beyond DACA and this is by understanding class struggle and political theory. Unified, we will protect each other and build to overcome the system that oppresses us.”
“The fact that this conference brought out so many youths from across California and was very well attended and of course productive,” said Diaz. “This is perfect timing to get together as leaders of this state to create dialogue and share brilliant ideas with one another. Many more gatherings are needed, and definitely necessary.”
From July 23rd to the 29th, the annual weeklong “Sons and Brothers Summer Camp” took place. Over 130 young men rode buses to Portola, California for the retreat. The Sons and Brothers Summer Camp is a youth gathering, high up in the mountains, that aims to help youth change for the better while teaching them the value of helping their communities.
After arriving in Portola, the campers were assigned cabins at the Sierra Nevada Journeys Grizzly Creek Ranch. Each cabin had around 12 beds which were almost entirely were filled with camp participants. After check-in, campers were called into the main lodge to go over some rules and housekeeping and to discuss the many activities that would occur throughout the week.
Each day at camp had a “theme” and Monday’s was on “beloved community”. At around 10:00 AM, the elders and adult allies stood in front of everyone to speak about their how they make their communities better and how the youth could do the same. Then, campers split up into “trails” which is a team of about 12 people who must go through a certain amount of courses to built up trust and teamwork together. Campers finished off the day with activities spread around the park until 10:00 PM.
On Tuesday morning, campers went to their sessions to discuss “Healing and Wholeness.” Two adult allies shared very emotional stories about their children and their life experiences and how they found themselves despite the hardships they’ve gone through. After that, campers experienced even more sophisticated trust exercises before ending the day with activities such as spray painting and hip hop music.
Wednesday was the longest day of camp and featured the topic ”repairing and structural harm”. This went into detail about how when a person thinks they are doing the right thing, but they might be damaging something or someone else. The campers trust exercises got much harder that afternoon. The youth had to help their peers across a tiny rope by guiding them all the way across. If the youth groups could trust in each other during in this activity, they were able to move on to the next course.
That day ended with a very emotional fire circle. For many of the youth, these fire circles were the highlight of entire trip. Participants got a tiny string to tie a knot for a every problem they wanted to leave behind. Once they told their story about what their knots represents, they placed it into the fire symbolizing that those problems have been left behind.
“Unity in the community is fundamentally based on relationships,” said Baba Greg Hodge, an adult ally at the retreat. “You have to get know the people in your community – their interests, problems as well as what their assets are.”
On Thursday, the youth discussed “community voice and power.” The young people had to explore scenarios that could actually happen and learn about individual and collective strategies through one another. Afterwards the youth went to their trail groups to do obstacle courses where each team had to use the trust they had built up to support one another to climb up a 50 feet tower.
The last day of camp was the most eventful day of the whole week. The topic of the day was “commitments and accountability”. Young people had the opportunity to explore practices, skills and tools for creating beloved communities.
After that was the final stage of the trail groups. The youth had to jump off a plank 50 feet high and trust in their teammates to be safe while jumping off the plank. This activity was called the “Leap Of Faith.” While many did not choose to do the jump, this writer decided to do it. As a person who is extremely afraid of heights, I would think that I would be the least likely to do it. But I did it and I had the trust I developed with my teammates built in me.
As a reporter, it was a very exciting experience to be able to cover this camp and to tell anyone who is reading this about it. But as youth, this camp is so far one of the highlights of my life.
For more information about Sons and Brothers and their efforts; please click here.
New research suggests Latino and youth voters have increased in this election compared to 2012. Youth, Latinos, and Asian Americans continue to be underrepresented in elections overall but it seems that the circumstances of the 2016 election may increase the voter turnout. More than one in five voters casting a ballot in the California primary election 2016 were Latino voters.
“Well of course the turnout is higher than before, they’re facing a man that’s totally against them,” said Enrique Ruz, a student studying political science at the Sacramento State University. “It’s a scary thought that all they could do is vote to save themselves from many future troubles.”
Higher turnout in youth voters in the 2016 California Primary election means they compromised around 7.5% of all ballots. That’s more than double seen in the previous primary and the highest in the twelve year period spent examining the study. Latino registered turnout also increased in 2016’s California primary to 38.7%, up to 22 percentage points from the 2012 presidential primary.
“Minorities in general tend not to vote until Election Day,” said Jose Dante Parra, a democratic strategist. “The fact that people are turning out earlier tells you that people are more attuned to the election and everything that’s happening.”
Accesslocal.tv reached out to a first-time voter in California to get his thoughts on the upcoming election on November 8th.
“Since this is my first time voting, I like to think that my vote matters and could change the outcome of the election,” said Giovanni Barajas when asked about how he feels as a first time voter. “I think (the) Latino vote is a lot higher this time around because they’re facing someone who could affect them extremely, especially for someone like myself.”
Since now there is a significant surge in Latino and young voters in the California primary elections,we may very well expect a larger number of Latino and young voters in the Presidential election. Like the rest of the country, we’ll have to wait and see the results on November 8th.
On November 9th, California could become yet another state to pass an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana with Proposition 64. The Golden State is already one of 25 states including Washington D.C. where medical marijuana is allowed by law.
However, the Drug Enforcement Agency continues to believe that the drug has no medical benefit and is as dangerous as heroin and LSD. The DEA’s outlook on marijuana is confusing given that over half the country has laws permitting the drug for medical purposes and that its legalization could boost the state’s economy. In fact, many lobbyists are now hoping to help support the initiative.
“There are a lot of people with a vested interest that see California as the pot of gold,” said David Quintana to the SacBee, who is a partner and lobbyist for Gonzalez, Quintana, Hunter & Cruz, LLC. “They see that pot of gold will be shaped by the Legislature. They all want a seat at that table. They don’t want to be the one left out.”
It comes as no surprise that everyone wants in as California has become one of the more progressive states. According to data from back in late May by the Public Policy Institute of California, 60 percent of likely voters in the state were in favor to legalize recreational marijuana, while 37 percent were opposed.
Although Prop 64 should pass this fall, there may be those who disagree with the proposal given the cognitive effects the drug can have on the brain. According to drugabuse.gov, marijuana has many adverse effects, both short and long-term. The greatest downfall of the proposition is its lack of regulation for driving under the influence.
“[W]e anticipate drugged driving of those driving under the influence of marijuana will increase dramatically, along with DUI related traffic fatalities,” said Ron Lawrence, Vice President of the California Police Chiefs Association.” With no limit rules similar to alcohol (.08 BAC) or means to test for field sobriety such as a breathalyzer, driving under the influence of marijuana is more difficult to detect and test for.”
Although there is no exact way to test for driving under the influence of marijuana, the people of California will need to take responsibilities for their privilege. But, not only does this legislation given opportunity for economic growth, it may help with lowering incarceration rates as well. Data from the American Civil Liberties Union showed that more than half of the arrests made in the US are crimes involving marijuana and 90 percent of those arrests from 2001 to 2010 were for simply having it. Plus, the arrests also appear to have a racial bias as African Americans are over three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites.
“Our current marijuana laws have undermined many of the things conservatives hold dear – individual freedom, limited government and the right to privacy,” said Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican who represents the 48th congressional district. “This measure is a necessary reform which will end the failed system of marijuana prohibition in our state, provide California law enforcement the resources it needs to redouble its focus on serious crimes while providing a policy blueprint for other states to follow.”
Likely to become the fifth state, or sixth since Nevada also has a proposition in place this November, California could pave the way for more states to push marijuana as a legal product within the economic infrastructure. In fact, California was the first to legalize medical weed in 1996 and now many others have decriminalized and legalized the drug for medical purposes. With the size of the population of the state, the largest in the country, the data that will be important as a means to push for legalization on a federal level.
The Democratic Party of Sacramento County held a phone bank on Friday, August 12th in support of Assembly Bill 1066, which would give farmworkers overtime pay.
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A recent survey says that many of the brightest, young minds at University of California campuses do not have access to high quality, nutritious food.
On May 21st, 2016 there was an event in Sacramento called the Youth Led Urban Ag Tour. This event took a selection of people on a bus to three locations. First stop was Luther Burbank High Urban Farm, next was the Yisreal Family Farm, and then finally the last stop was at the International Garden Of Many Colors.