As a young Hispanic, I know that there are many reasons why I need to vote and have my voice heard. With the midterm elections coming up, this is an important time for me to do my part and help shape our nation into what I want it to be.
Recently, the Advancement Project California and Movement StrategyCenter released their Welcoming and Safe Schools for All model resolution. The model was created to inspire school districts and other local agencies to have all students in mind while acknowledging the diversity of this state when creating their resolutions and policies under the current political climate.
With California being one of the most diverse states in the nation, and a home to many different people, it is crucial that educators and youth advocates keep updating and considering the way that the students are dealing with real-life issues such as citizenship status, transphobia, and countless other issues that students unfortunately face.
Back in May 2017, many youth organizations came together to create a model resolution for the safety and protection of all students. Youth Organize! California Network, Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network, Californians for Justice, RYSE Center, Khmer Girls in Action, Del Norte and tribal Lands Building Healthy Communities, Resilience Orange County and many other youth organizations made this model a reality.
The resolution model focuses on protecting the rights of all students regardless of race, ethnicity, religious and spiritual belief/practices, citizenship status, sexual orientation, etc. Their three main focuses are safety and protection, supports and services for all students, and affirming and celebrating diversity.
“Having the… model resolution means that youth leaders are being heard, that adult leaders are responding to our needs, and that we can successfully work together to address the issues that threaten safe and welcoming schools,” says Citlali Ruiz, a youth organizer with Resilience Orange County in Santa Ana.
Resilience Orange County was created in 2016; merging together RAIZ and Santa Ana Boys and Men of Color, two organizations that fought against deportation and the issues that men and boys of color face in Santa Ana. The Resilience Orange County aims to engage the youth of their community in fighting for social and systematic justice.
According to Jeremy Lahoud, Senior Fellow Certified Professional Coach with the Movement Strategy Center in Oakland, YO! Cali Network will be creating a toolkit for educators across California to use the model resolution within the next month or so.
On Wednesday, September 26th, at the Fruitridge Community Collaborative, a back to school community gathering was held for the surrounding community.
This event focused on things like how to respect other’s pronouns, understand what other people are going through and also teaches about gender and sexuality. Sacramento State hosted this event through a community partner, The Gender Health Center.
“This workshop trains how people, organizations and spaces can provide support, safety and allyship to the trans community,” Keyko Torres said in the beginning of her presentation.
Students, community members and allies who attended the workshop provided an open and welcoming space. Topics like gender, fluidity, and respect were discussed. The space was non-judgemental and open to questions.
Workshops like this one help provide support to the trans community and their allies. Institutions, especially universities, need to provide resources to the different communities that they host.
For example, changing names on official documents has proven very difficult for many members of the transgender community. This has a huge impact on emotional health.
In 2017, the Association of American Colleges and Universities reported that “52.1 percent of incoming transgender college students reported their emotional health as either below average or in the lowest 10 percent relative to their peers,” according to the findings of Ellen Barza Stollenzberg from the Higher Education research institute of California, Los Angeles.
It is clear that universities need to do more for the transgender community, workshops like this one are definitely a step in the right direction. But, so many believe more can be done. What can we do to be better allies?
For some, this is an obvious answer- “Provide resources for transgender people and listen to them,” Torres said during the workshop.
If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to be a better ally, visit the Gender Health Center at http://www.thegenderhealthcenter.org/.
On Saturday, October 6th, the Black Parallel School Board held a forum at the Fruitridge Community Collaborative for candidates seeking office for the Sacramento Unified School District Board.
On Saturday, October 13, the 39th annual Take Back the Night Rally and March will be held at the Sacramento Native American Health Center at 2020 J Street. This event will be held from 5:30 PM- 9:00 PM.
Sacramento’s Take Back the Night Rally and March is held in order to gather the Sacramento community to stand up against sexual assault, domestic violence, gender-based violence and all hate crimes in general.
“We all have to take care of each other,” said local artist and student, Eliot Olson. “It’s all of our responsibilities to create justice, not just a selected committee of oppressors. Community matters.”
There are many resources for people dealing with violence and for people who want to learn how to get more involved in their community. Artists including those that do spoken word, sing or dance will perform and there will be an array of speakers and advocates. The march will begin to make its way through midtown at 8:30 PM and come to an end at 9:00 PM.
Take Back the Night matters to many people in the community and around the Sacramento area. It gives them the chance to speak up, advocate and find ways to help out their community.
To learn more about the Take Back the Night Rally and March, visit their FaceBook page at Take Back the Night.
On Sunday, September 16, the City of Sacramento held the inaugural “916 Day” at McClatchy Park. This is an event planned to be held annually, every 16th of September to bring together Sacramento citizens for a celebration of the city.
On Wednesday, September 12th, Scott Gottlieb, the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, stated that youth vaping has become an “epidemic”. He said that his administration is planning on stopping e-cigarette manufacturers sales if they cannot prove that they’re putting the proper rules in place to keep their products out of the hands of children and teenagers. Youth vaping has become a “popular” thing to do in the past few years, with 1-in-10 high school students saying that they’ve vaped nicotine in the last year and 1-in-20 reporting that they vaped marijuana.
“It really started because everyone else was doing it,” said Adam DeLeon, a Sacramento teenager who formerly used devices such as “Juul’s” to vape nicotine. “I knew there was nicotine in it but didn’t think it would do any harm, I thought I could control it. Eventually, I got my own Juul and would use it every day, I found myself needing it a lot. I’m eighteen, I didn’t want to be addicted to something this early in my life, so I ended up throwing everything away.”
Peer pressure seems to be one of the biggest factors in youth vaping as almost 40 percent of students claimed that is why they began. Another 31 percent claimed they began because of the range of flavors available and 17.1 percent claimed that they thought that e-cigarettes were less harmful than regular cigarettes. This is part of the reason why the FDA is ordering e-cigarette manufacturers such as Juul, Blu, Logic, MarkTen XL, and Vuse to give them “robust” plans to keep their products away from children and teenagers.
Gottlieb himself has said there’s no doubt that youth vaping is a problem in America. “Teenagers are becoming regular users, and the proportion of regular users is increasing,” says Gottlieb, who is a physician. “We’re going to have to take action. No one can look at the data and say there’s no problem.” Many believe that it is good to see that the FDA is finally cracking down on the problem but we will still have to see what occurs in the near future.
According to a recent poll commissioned by Power California, 72% of California youth aged 18 to 24 say they “definitely will” vote in November but only 16% of that same age group voted in the June primaries. This causes many to wonder what is causing this disconnect with youth and voting.
Many young people have their own opinions on voting, and it’s not that they aren’t politically aware, it’s just that many have lost faith in the system or simply don’t know what steps to take to be registered to vote.
“If Hillary and Trump were running again, no I wouldn’t vote, politics are just messed up on both sides,” says 16-year-old William Oosterman of Sacramento.
Youth voter turnout is also an issue that needs to be confronted. In the Power California Polls, around 70% of the youth who voted in the June primary said they were contacted by email or text reminding them to vote. But just reminding young people to vote isn’t always enough.
Young voters need to connect to the candidates and issues they are voting for. Increasingly, more and more youth are supporting groups like Black Lives Matter and are the majority of attendees at protests and boycotts. When a candidate speaks out about an issue that matters to them, an increased number of younger voters show up to the polls.
“Yes I would vote!” says Mason Johnson, a young potential voter in California. “People’s opinions can potentially change the future of the country.”
It is the future of the country that young people are worried about and have set out to change. Some, like Johnson, have not lost hope and continue to fight for a country they can be proud of. Others no longer believe voting has a purpose. Voter education and contact, such as reminders, are just some steps that need to be taken to increase voter turnout among youth.
The Black Parallel School Board will hold a candidates forum for the upcoming Sacramento City Unified School District Board election on Saturday, October 6th from 11:30 to 1:30 PM at the Fruitridge Community Collaborative in Room 5.
The main focus of this event is to let the public understand who their candidates for this election are. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions, hear what the candidates have to say and learn what the future of their school district could hold.
Confirmed candidates who will be attending are Lisa Murawski and Anna Molander, running in Area I, Ellen Cochrane, Cecile L. Nunley and Leticia Garcia who are running in Area II, and Darrell Woo and Jody S. Johnson from Area VI.
“As a young person, I try and find every possible way to get involved,” said Emelia-Rose Engel, an intern with candidate Lisa Murawski. “I know how important and vital this race is to me and so many other youths. This race affects the school system and with that, thousands and thousands of students, which means getting involved and letting our voices be heard is so powerful and meaningful.”
Residents who would like more information should call (916) 484-3729 or visit www.blackparallelschoolboard.com.