Winter 2016 Issue 14
School Systems Are Failing Students of Color
At the Seams: An Interview with Kimya Dawson
Under Trump, Country Must Unite Against Hate
Index School Systems Are Failing Students of Color
From Renovation to Gentrification: The Urban Renewal Fantasy
At the Seams: An Interview with Kimya Dawson
Poems Not Prisons
One Time At Sons and Brothers Camp...
FAX Riders Deserve WiFi
Under Trump, Country Must Unite Against Hate
Pushing Out the ‘School Pushout’
The kNOw Youth Media 2911 Tulare St. Fresno, CA 93721 Web: ThekNOwFresno.org Twitter: @ThekNOwFresno Facebook: /ThekNOwFresno Instagram: @ThekNOwFresno Email: ThekNOw@NewAmericaMedia.org The kNOw is supported by a grant from The California Endowment.
The KNOW 2016 Winter Issue 14 Published by Pacific News Service dba New America Media
Coachella Unicoporated. South Kern Sol. The kNOw. We’Ced. VoiceWaves.
YouthWire Program Director Tim Haydock
YouthWire Statewide Coordinator Alheli Cuenca
Program Manager & Editor Kody Stoebig
Beat Reporter Miguel Bibanco
Jarrett M. Ramones
Translation Paulina Rojas
New America Media Founder & CEO Sandy Close
Chief Financial Officer Maria Alvarez
Words. Art. Photos.
Lauren Baker. Miguel Bibanco. Johnsen Del Rosario. Danyeal Escobar. Sierra Frank. Zyanna Maynard. Jarrett M. Ramones. Ricardo Reyna. Aqeela Starks.
The View From Down Here
For the writers of The kNOw, it isn’t difficult to imagine what a perfect world would look like. They see a world without borders, where no one fears for their safety because of the color of their skin or where they grew up. They see a world that wants them to receive an education and values the work that they are passionate about – no matter how little money that work might generate. They see a world where they don’t have to fight so hard for their voices to be heard. But the stark reality we all face is that this imagined world is very different from the world we live in. So how do we get there? How do we begin to create a better world? According to them, it’s simple. That world starts by facing the parts of society that scare us head on. This issue, which comes at a time where there is much turmoil in our society, is a culmination of their efforts to remedy the world around them – whether that’s taking on gentrification or the school to prison pipeline or finding a community that allows you to truly be yourself. These young writers have all faced those in power disregarding their opinions because of their age or because of where they come from, but that has only made them more dedicated and passionate as they demand that their voices are heard. They are tired of being afraid for their futures and the futures of those they care about. They are ready to see real change happen and they have the solutions that will help get us there.
Program Manager & Editor
Pushing Out the ‘School Pushout’
and had fewer absences. Here in Fresno, we don’t try to take enough action when it comes to disciplining our students the right way; so that they learn from their mistakes instead of being sent away from schools for periods of time. Our systems leads to students basically enjoying themselves while suspended, only to return to their place of schooling with no lessons learned - except that if they act out, they may get to stay home for a few days. Mentorship programs could go a long way. I am someone who, at one point, considered myself a troubled youth with no sense of direction. Life really took a turn for the better when I came across a few strong and patient mentors that have helped me learn to see the bigger picture in society, and life in general.
Words. Ricardo Reyna. Photo. Kody Stoebig.
ere in Fresno, CA, things can get pretty tough. Many young people of color are living in poverty, their parents are being forced to work multiple jobs and they seem to be getting suspended and expelled from schools in every direction you look. Many people, myself included, believe that this is the product of something called the “School Pushout”. This is what occurs when students are held back from receiving the education and opportunities that all of our young men and women deserve.
In the last year alone, the state of California has suspended over 240,000 students. That’s nearly a quarter million young people in just this state being taken out of school and away from their education. The most common causes cited for these suspensions are minor misbehaviors, like “willful defiance” or acting out.
Throughout my life I’ve been suspended more times than I can count. Many times, I was suspended over something as simple as carrying markers and writing in books, or getting smart with teachers, trying to justify my actions or prove my point. Now granted, I wasn’t the best kid in school and my behavior was probably that of a mischievous rebel. I believe that kicking me out of these schools and sending me home for days at a time, more times than they should have, affected who and where I am today. I also strongly feel that if a young person truly has positive role models or teachers who reach out and help them, that it could really make all the difference.
I feel that, as part of our community and school district, we can find a better approach to questions Instead of predisposing our young people to the of discipline for our growing young people. criminal justice system and setting them up for failure, we should come together to find better For instance, if we were to introduce more Now many people may ask, “How can you solutions to how we treat them. It’s estimated possibly hold back an entire generation of young programs that try to mentor these students instead that one in every 11 children have a parent in the of trying to eliminate the problem as a whole, I people from receiving their education?” correctional system. There is also the wall that is believe school test scores, graduation rates and placed in front of employment that people who overall school ratings would improve massively. Well, that’s easy when there are situations like were locked up must face. Studies show that postAn example of this would be to look at the the constant overuse of suspensions, improper incarceration, family income drops by as much as funding going to schools in “underserved areas”, way Garfield High School in East Los Angeles 15 percent, sometimes greater. and a huge lack of counselors and health services. approached this situation. One can’t help but wonder if our youth are The criminalization of our youth and After introducing their positive behavior program, demonization of their actions is something that being stopped from reaping the full benefits this suspensions went from 510 to just one in 2010-11 desperately needs to be addressed, we can no country has to offer and are truly experiencing and just one again the following year in 2011-12. longer push them to the side as if they were institutional bias as well as being pushed out of Though the planning process took a few years, the someone else’s problem. Though most have schools. outcome was outstanding, and students’ test scores parents of their own, it takes so much more than improved greatly. If we were to look at the facts and statistics of a parent to show a young person what their full these occurrences, we would see that the use of potential in life could be if they just search and Schools in Oakland also found alternate ways to suspension starts as early as preschool, and that dig deeper in themselves. After all, it is said that it handle suspension and expulsion by participating takes an entire village to raise a child, and we have African American preschoolers are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than their caucasian in restorative justice programs, and they also saw a lot of young, growing students in this country. an increase in graduation rates, reading scores classmates.
School Systems Are Failing Students of Color
Words. Aqeela Starks. Art. Kody Stoebig.
ince I’ve begun advocating, I’ve been able to take a step back and form my own opinion on major topics that affect my peers and me on a great scale.
This isn’t healthy for anyone. From my own experience, if I’m not able to do at least one thing I really enjoy at school, everything else seems like a huge waste of my time. I begin to question why I’m sitting in a classroom getting lectured and what better things I could be putting my time to.
school system, but one of the most disagreeable forms of discipline is the suspension of preschool children. I’ve watched my little brother struggle with multiple teachers who make it seem as if he’s not trying when really, he simply doesn’t get the help he needs.
It’s been noted that when he gets frustrated and can’t get help, he tends to shut down or act up. Instead of taking the time to understand and help him, they do away with him and send home complaint letters. I believe suspending a preschooler is one of the worst things you could do as a teacher and even having that be an option shows a lot about how much they really care about little children.
Last year California’s schools suspended more than 240,000 students, mainly for being defiant. “Defiant” is a term that gets used and abused One major problem that strikes home for me is in our schools. Respect must be earned and, in the schools-to-prisons pipeline so many of us are the event that someone – in this case a teacher accustomed to. For years, I watched friends of or staff member – isn’t helping you or treating mine grow up to hate school, but still be eager Although I’ve never experienced being noticeably a student with respect, then that student should to learn. Every day the same people would get disliked by any of my teachers, I have experienced have the rights to express his/her disliking of that called out in class for minor incidents, such as a lot of secondhand hate because of the people I treatment within reason. chewing gum or getting out of their seats to throw choose to hang around with. something away. For example, if a teacher were to yell at and/or Ninety-nine percent of the time, when one of my violate a student’s personal space, once it goes to Now that I’m more educated on the topic, I friends was acting up at school the foundation of administration, it’s no longer a two-sided story. It’s believe most of these were acts of hate against my the problem came from outside the school system the teacher’s word over the student’s. fellow students. No matter how hard I or others of – whether that was from a situation at home or a darker pigmentation try, we’ll still come in last them dealing with their own individual issues. Nine times out of 10, the teacher’s word wins. place. So students believe they’re powerless against Schools are meant to be one of the places where their teachers and this only encourages them to I believe the school system is not entirely at fault you can get help from a teacher or a counselor, but continue to act out. because, from what I’ve seen, the people who when both of these options fail students I’ve often enforce these rules tend to abuse their power. seen them take the hand that was reaching out to Fresno schools should be focusing more on them. Even if that hand is coming from someone creativity and teaching to be patient, calm and Many of my friends haven’t come from a who who does not have their best interests in collected. All schools should also have a peer privileged background and have been raised to mind. mediation program that allows another student or work hard for what they want. A huge problem peer to handle disciplinary situations on a more I have noticed in the school system is that the Even though I don’t believe any one of my friends personal and understanding level – instead of people in charge often reward those who have or anyone who may be going through a bad time simply resorting to suspensions. perfect attendance, rather than the students who is a bad person, I believe that once they can no struggle every day to get to school and still try to longer get the proper help from school, they may I strongly believe the reasons for going to school learn. make some bad choices. have been completely lost. It’s assumed that school is the only way you’re going to get somewhere in Another major problem I’ve noticed in the school And often these bad choices end up with them in life. So, with statistics showing youth of color are system is that every year more and more funding a juvenile delinquency center or a gang – or they disproportionately targeted, I’ve come to believe for creative activities, like music or art, gets cut simply give up on life. the school system doesn’t want people of color to and the money gets spent instead on things like succeed. surveillance cameras or security guards. I dislike a great many things that pertain to the
Currently, around 11 percent of Fresno’s low-price census tracts are being gentrified. These are neighborhoods where the median home value and median household income fell within the bottom 40th percentile of all tracts in the city at the beginning of the decade, when the last census was taken.
They include places like the west side of Fresno from Church Ave. and Elm St. to Fruit Ave. and Jensen Ave. Even my old neighborhood of Huntington Boulevard, where I grew up but no longer live, is becoming unrecognizable to me.
From Renovation to Gentrification: Words. Ricardo Reyna. The Urban Renewal Fantasy Photo. Kody Stoebig.
ately, Fresno has seen a number of renovation projects get going – mostly in neighborhoods near downtown, but also in the southeast and southwestern parts of the city. Renovation is great. But what happens when a neighborhood that is home to mostly low-income families gets fixed up? Typically, those families are no longer able to afford the rise in living costs and so they are forced to move out, leaving behind homes, friends and sometimes livelihoods. It’s the textbook definition of gentrification. Social justice activists and community residents alike have long recognized residential displacement as one of the biggest negative side effects of urban renovation. During the 1950s and 60s, acts like the Federal Urban Renewal program, as well as interstate highway construction and community redevelopment efforts forcefully moved communities of color and low income families into so-called “inner city,” urban neighborhoods in large numbers.
Displacement through gentrification can lead families and communities down a vicious cycle. Individuals become depressed and socially isolated. Families are left with the anxiety that comes from being driven away from their homes, schools and jobs. And there is also the corrosion of social networks and community resources.
As a young person, I believe gentrification also becomes a barrier to youth who would otherwise flourish, grow and develop in a neighborhood Reyna outside the site of Fulton Mall’s renovations. where these community pillars are left intact.
camouflaging what in reality was continued displacement even though it was no longer by forced removal. In 1978, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsored some of the first reports highlighting the link between revitalization and neighborhood displacement. Titled “Urban Displacement: A Reconnaissance” (Grier & Grier 1978), the report listed twenty-five reasons why residents might have to involuntarily move from their home. These reasons included; accidental fires, demolition to make way for new housing, highway or transit expansion, public building construction, or rising market prices and rents.
Because of this history, civil rights activists became aware of the risks of displacement and the role that our government has often played in expediting it.
The report’s authors offered up a definition for this sort of displacement, which has been adoptedby countless researchers for decades since. “Displacement occurs when any household is forced to move from its residence by conditions which affect the dwelling or immediate surroundings, and which; are beyond the household’s reasonable ability to control or prevent, occur despite the household’s having met all previously-imposed conditions of occupancy, and make continued occupancy by that household impossible, hazardous or unaffordable.”
By the 1970s, the language around development and renovation began to shift. Terms like “giving back to the community” began to appear,
So how big is the issue in Fresno? Big enough to land the city on a list of urban areas around the country undergoing gentrification.
With gentrification, neighborhoods are no longer seen as just “homes.” Instead, they are seen as potential opportunities for profit and gain. And underlying this “urban renewal” fantasy is a more racial history of intentional and focused impoverishment. For those who can’t afford to shield themselves, change can be a vicious and unforgiving thing. Which is why we must take a stand against gentrification and work together to find ways to improve our city while also allowing those who live here to enjoy the benefits of that renovation. We must work together to end gentrification.
Reyna in front of his childhood home.
of yourself and my older sister. Times were different when you were a child. Times were difficult for you. The heavy responsibilities you faced as a child have truly made you a strong independent woman. At times, you can be demanding. You add responsibilities and tasks to my plate and it makes me question myself and who you really think I am. At times it really feels like I exist only for the needs of others. I can’t help but feeling disheartened when you always say you don’t care how I feel. I feel voiceless and like I have no say. No matter how hard I try, most of the feedback I receive is negative.
y whole life I’ve felt a distance between you and I. We have a very structured relationship and the smallest of conflicts have massive consequences, both physically and emotionally. Even though I mostly understand why you act the way you do, it still bothers me. Conflict can arise from anywhere and everywhere. You expect me to clean and you expect me to watch the children. You expect them to listen and you expect me to be held accountable anytime they don’t. I expect to have a normal life and an understanding parent. But expectations rarely match reality. I am often confused around you and not knowing what to think or how to feel is something I’ve learned to deal with.
Words. Aqeela Starks. Photo. Jarrett Ramones.
The only time I’ve been able to find refuge and truly be myself is when I’m working to improve That’s not at all the case. my community. It’s hard to describe why I feel so passionate about the work that I do in the community I’ve spent most of my life moving from place to place and at times that can be really frustrating. I wish I and helping out as much as I can to the point where I could have that conversation with you without feeling don’t really remember much but moving. I don’t feel as unheard, pushed away or longing for a way out. if we have any real connection and I’m almost certain you don’t really know who I am. Going to college has been advertised as a rite of passage. With life at home being really confusing, For years I’ve felt like I was living in the shadows, only college seems like both a great way to get out and called upon to help, do something, or go get something. explore as well as the perfect place to spread my wings and be myself. I became the little helper to you. When other relatives began to see me the same way I began to dread visiting Once I graduate high school in 2017, I’d like to them. study a variety of subjects including communication, journalism, film and physical therapy. Doing my best to help others and receiving only negative feedback in exchange only enhanced the urge Aside from going to school and doing work at home, I I have to want to get away: to college, down the street, really want to maintain a healthy relationship with my or anywhere else. Once I’m away, even if it’s just at the community. I don’t feel like it’s a waste of time because park up the street, I feel like I can be myself without it helps me better my people skills and puts me in a being judged or having hurtful comments thrown at position to meet new people, some of whom I have me by the people I live with. much in common with.
But suppressing my feelings because I don’t want to be threatened or hurt is something I don’t want to deal with forever. I really want a chance to put aside helping everyone else in our family and start working on myself and my future. For you, growing up was far from easy. You often had to tend to your brothers’ and sisters’ every need with At home I feel very pressured to do everything. no questions asked, causing you to grow up fast. Because opportunities to get out and into the community are rare, I try to create my own When I hear about how you were raised I understand opportunities. that we are more alike than we are different. You often say that I don’t care about anyone but myself. I know that you feel as if I’m ignoring my responsibilities at home to go outside and be a part of my community.
If I even try to have a voice or express my feelings, I’m immediately put through the nine stages of hell. I’ve hidden my true personality and feelings just to lessen the struggle and not be a burden.
Once you started living on your own with little to no help from your parents and a new infant, you weren’t able to finish high school. Instead, you made the decision to drop out so you could focus on taking care
Having several other children in the house, I don’t expect you to pay or help pay for my college. I’d be proud of myself if I could pay tuition, maintain a small apartment and care for myself. Once I graduate and leave the house I hope to leave with you proud of me and knowing everything’s going to work out just fine. Love, Aqeela
and the marginalized people that need extra support. One of the ways to do that is to share our platform. I did a festival once that Billy Bragg was playing at and someone shouted, “You’re gonna save the world!” He responded with, “My job’s not to save the world. It’s to inspire you to save the world.”
08 Words. Miguel Bibanco. Photo. Samantha Ceja and Miguel Bibanco.
MB: How’d you get involved with the #SchoolsNotPrisons tour? How has the experience been? KD: I love it. I got invited by my friend Dream Hampton. She helped with some of the organizing of the tour. She said, “I’m working on this thing ... do you want to do it?” I was like you’re working on a thing? Sign me up. Then she said, “We should probably tell you what it is, huh?” Then they told me and I said I’ll do all the dates. Then they said, “Uhhh … well we have a lot of people. There’s not room on the bill at every date.” So I got on a few.
At the Seams: An Interview with Kimya Dawson
SchoolsNotPrisons is a music and arts tour designed to partner with communities throughout California that have been disproportionately impacted by incarceration and other forms of unjust punishment. Now approaching the end of its run, the tour has stopped in eight diverse communities where it has highlighted ways residents can help create safer and healthier communities. In addition to arts and music performances with a social justice focus, the tour stops also provide young people with the chance to meet the artists and performers. When I first discovered that Kimya Dawson was slotted to perform on the #SchoolsNotPrisons tour I was incredulous. I couldn’t believe that my favorite musician was part of a movement that I was also a part of. It felt surreal. When I realized this meant that I would have a chance to see my hero live for the first time, I screeched at a pitch that is only audible to Boston Terriers.
sit down and have a discussion with her about the importance of #SchoolsNotPrisons. Yes sir, 100 percent professionalism is the only accurate description of my conversation with Dawson. Through some short and pragmatic questioning, I discovered that her mismatched socks were an important fashion statement, that she enjoys the comfort of pajamas outside of bedtime hours and that she flip flops on the burrito vs. sandwich debate depending on where in the state she is. We also made sure to discuss the role of the arts in social justice, how she became a part of the #SchoolsNotPrisons tour and how sometimes you’ll spend five years writing a song because it’s just that important. MB: During the roundtable discussion there was certain conversation about the role of artists and performers in social justice. What does that look like?
KD: I think it’s different for everybody. Everyone has different reasons for doing art and music, different goals. My parents always had the, “We’ll take the kids that Despite the fact that I had been a huge fan of Dawson since I first heard her music on the Juno no one else will take” mentality when it came to daycare. soundtrack when I was 14, I managed to keep my That’s translated into what I do with music. For me composure when I was offered the opportunity to activism goes hand in hand with taking care of the kids
MB: Do you find that the goal of #SchoolsNotPrisons is in line with what you do with your music? KD: My family’s house was a daycare center when I was growing up. I worked in day camp for ten years and I worked in elementary schools. I worked with kids my whole life until I started touring. You develop these relationships with kids and you can’t just split. I connect with young people through my music and having all ages shows. Stuff like [#SchoolsNotPrisons] always feels perfect to me because it crosses issues around education with music and the arts. MB: That last song you played, “At the Seams,” was so powerful. What was the process of developing that song and why did you decide to play it here? KD: Yeah, I spent five years writing that song. Dream, my friend who invited me to do these shows … she and I were hanging out in Detroit together at a show when Troy Davis was executed. Around that time, I was thinking about that, and stop and frisk. I’m from New York [and] that was a huge thing. I started piecing all these words together about all these feelings and all these issues and stuff just kept happening. So the song just kept evolving and I spent five years being haunted by all of these stories and finally I was just like, “It’s not ending! I have to stop writing.” It felt like a big part of it is about police brutality, incarceration, and changing the system so I had to play it here. Kimya Dawson’s performance captivated me more than I thought it would. I found myself singing along to familiar songs with whispers that sounded louder than anything in the room and shouts that were inaudible to everyone, except myself. When I saw Dawson rest her guitar and close her eyes on stage for her final performance, I knew that I was in for something extraordinary.
Bibanco and Dawson after their interview.
At the Seams was a powerful reminder of the state of our work when it comes to liberation and I encourage you to take a listen and think about how we can build a future for all of us. Scan the image to the left to listen to Dawson’s “At the Seams.”
Poems Not Prisons by Zyanna Maynard This poem was originally written for the Fresno stop of the #SchoolsNotPrisons concert tour.
I have always been one of the students who was lucky enough to barely make it. Barely skimming my way through classes usually because i was one of the students who never acted out in class. I was too afraid of getting in trouble. Too afraid of what could happen. In my sophomore year i found out what could happen. There was this guy in my biology class. The class clown, he would crack jokes. He farted on me once. I remember that. I remember he was so lively and vibrant, and i remember when he first got in trouble. He was sent out of class but I saw him again the next day like nothing happened. He got into some trouble a few weeks later because he started yelling at some kid in class. But I saw him again the next day. Same old jokester just kinda different. Later on he seemed a bit more rowdy. A week later he yelled at the teacher, he told her that she wasn’t helping him. I didn’t see him the next day. He was suspended. Eventually he returned but then the outbursts were more frequent, he wasn’t the same person anymore. He stopped coming to class after a while. He just disappeared. No one seemed to care. I saw him again a few weeks back, he was at a corner with a few other guys. I knew exactly why he was there. I knew exactly what happened. The school saw him as a problem child and no one wanted to solve the problem. They pushed him out, they didn’t try to see what was happening with him, they didn’t try to fix the situation. He is a human being that’s the point. He deserved to be treated like he matters because he matters because he does, Because we all matter.
them, I was able to fly high on the Flying Squirrel and walk across strings of ropes a couple feet off the ground. #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork
I’m also the type of person who keeps to himself, but being around these folks, I knew I was in a safe place. So much so, I was able to open up without the fear of being judged. I told stories that I’ve kept to myself for years in front of people I’ve only known for a few days. I was exposed, but it was liberating. And throughout the week, I was given the chance to try and experience a lot of new things. I took the opportunity to channel my inner Katniss Everdeen and tried archery for the first time. Well, I was probably more Peeta than Katniss because I wasn’t very good at it. Terrible, really.
Words. Johnsen Del Rosario. Photo. Carlos Molina.
One Time At Sons and Brothers Camp...
hen the bus’ air conditioner broke down on the way to Portola, California for the Sons and Brothers Camp, I thought to myself, “If this is any indication of how the rest of my week is going to go, I am going to suffer.”
Once the team and I got together, planned out our roles and started working on the project, I still had no idea what was going on.
But through this project, I was able to meet a young man named Alex Meza from Coachella, California. Alex shared with me his will to fight the injustices people of color face, especially those I am not an outdoorsy kind of person. I can stop who are undocumented and part of the LGBTQ+ and appreciate the beauty of nature, but to stay in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with people I community. To see the fight in this young man’s have never met was beyond what I was comfortable eyes got me excited. with. And to make matters worse, I had to do it To see the fight in all of these young men’s eyes lit without my phone. a fire within me. But I am here today, writing this for everyone to These young men want to live in a place where read, meaning I survived the week. Minus the they won’t get stopped and/or killed by the police many, many mosquito bites (thanks for nothing, because of the color of their skin. They want to be insect repellent), my time at camp was a lot able to leave the comfort of their homes and not different than what I had imagined. be afraid that that may have been the last time they saw their families. Equality is something they want Before I start talking about myself, I should for everyone, regardless of race, religion, class, probably explain what the Sons and Brothers gender and/or sexuality. They want to see change Camp is. Now in its fifth year, the folks from The California Endowment invite young men of color and they are willing to fight for it. from across California to help them become And I’m willing to fight for it as well. the leaders that they can be. The youth have a I came to camp with a pessimistic outlook of how safe space where they can openly talk about the my week was going to be. But these folks, many of injustices that plague their communities and the whom are four to seven years younger than I am, hardships in their lives. Through workshops, activities and healing circles, the young men learn changed that. I was able to let loose and have fun while learning the importance of advocacy and how they can combat these injustices through self-healing at the same time. advocacy as well as self-healing. I was initially invited to the Sons and Brothers Camp to be part of a media team. To be entirely truthful, I had no idea what I was supposed to do.
I learned to trust people, which is something that I struggle with. But when your life hangs in the hands of your cabin-mates, you’re left with no choice but to trust them. And because I trusted
But hey, he survived the Hunger Games (twice!) and I survived nature and mosquitos, so we’re pretty much the same person. But on a more serious note, the moment I’ll cherish and remember most about my week at camp was during a spoken word workshop with Paul Flores. Paul led the group by first listing the events of my generation—i.e. the many unjust killings of blacks by the police and the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando. We were instructed to write a personal testimony for a community in my generation who face injustices and how we’ll stand in solidarity with them. When I put pen to paper, I wrote thinking I didn’t have to share. You should’ve seen the look on my face when Paul said to get in groups with your cabin. The camp respected privacy, so we weren’t required to share our pieces, but I surprisingly did. I don’t know why, to be honest. I’m not the best writer when it comes to poetry or spoken word, but I shared anyway. We then performed it in front of the whole camp. I wrote about the injustices faced by the LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t say it directly, but it was implied I identified with the group. This was the first time I really acknowledged myself as being part of this community. I finally felt comfortable enough to say, “Hey, I’m bisexual.” To a room where 90 percent of the people are straight, nonetheless. But I heard the snaps and the applause and I felt safe. Loved. And that moment of safety, I will remember that feeling for the rest of my life. (Also, I may have just came out to lot of people, so . . . surprise! But I don’t care who knows anymore. I’m proud of the person I am and that’s all that matters.)
Anyway. My time at camp was a transformative experience. And as cliché as it sounds, I really did come back a different person. I met a lot of new people, all of whom I appreciate and love. Our time together, albeit short, was fantastic. Terrrrrrific. Grrrrreat. All. Day. Long. And at the end of it all, we all gained about 100 new brothers. If given the chance next year, I would come back in a heartbeat (with stronger insect repellent too). And before I end this blog post, I want to thank everyone at the Sons and Brothers Camp for making this experience unforgettable for me. If our paths don’t cross again, just know you all have a special place in my heart.(Also, if you haven’t, add me on Facebook~) P.S. – I also kayaked for the first time in a pond that was 15 FEET DEEP (or so I’m told). I’m glad I didn’t tip over because I can’t swim.
Del Rosario and the other young men who attended the 2016 camp.
P.P.S. – The food was good; in case you were wondering. I would.
FAX Riders Deserve WiFi Words. Danyeal Escobar. Art. Lauren Baker.
or only $1.25 most people, ages 7-64, can Mid-July in Fresno is deadly. We’ve all take up to 3 of 100 buses traveling 16 routes that experienced the desert heat and sometimes it cover 133 square miles of Fresno. This city service causes extreme disruption to our lives. is known as Fresno Area Express, or FAX. I was riding a FAX buses, number 22 actually, FAX buses help people from all walks of life get and the bus driver seemed alarmed. He had where they need to go. The buses have ramps pulled over twice already at locations without and availability for wheelchairs, but handicapped stops due to unknown issues. The engine people have to pay 25¢ more. There are lower bus sounded funny and I felt unsafe. The bus fares for elders, costing only 60¢. They even have got downtown, almost to the transit center, bus schedules available for 25¢. and stopped. The driver pulled over and told everyone that bus 22 was no longer in service FAX offers many services to help the community due to overheating. It was dangerous to of Fresno, but they could do more. continue driving. FAX buses should offer free public WiFi for riders. WiFi servers are already installed in FAX buses, but its use is restricted to bus drivers. Free public WiFi would relieve stress and make bus rides more enjoyable for the people of Fresno. Riding FAX buses can be stressful. Sometimes buses are off schedule and sometimes they don’t show up at all. When these situations occur, riders miss transfers to other buses. People can be late for meetings, work, school, curfew, etc. Some people are fortunate enough to have data on their phones, while other people rely on WiFi, like me.
Everyone got off the bus we all paid for and had to walk. I was far from my destination and didn’t have WiFi to tell my mom what had happened. I didn’t know exactly where I was so I just started walking. I went about 6 blocks before I found free WiFi. I let my mom know what had occurred and had my boyfriend come pick me up and take me to work. That situation is why I think FAX buses should have free WiFi. It could’ve been late at night, I could’ve been hurt or kidnapped and no one would’ve known my bus hadn’t made it to my location.
Not to mention, bus rides are long and tedious. With the many stops and driver breaks it takes at least an hour to get anywhere. WiFi on FAX buses could make my time normally wasted on buses, much more productive. Making free public WiFi available could help many people in unexpected situations. I think this addition would be a good way to spend city money.
hen Donald Trump first announced his bid for presidency in 2015, I saw it as a joke. My friends and I laughed at the thought of Trump ever becoming president. But now it’s our reality.
Hillary conceded the race. I, we, were angry. Sad. Confused. Heartbroken. But most importantly, we were scared.
Other than a couple retweets and a few conversations with friends and colleagues, I’ve kept silent on Trump’s election. I was going to remain quiet, but considering this is our reality for the next four years, I realized that this is not the time to be silent.
It was about 1 a.m. when I got home. Before I went to bed, I looked on social media to see how the country reacted. I saw some family and friends celebrate Trump’s win, but a majority of my feeds were filled with disbelief, anger, disgust, annoyance, hatred and fear.
And I’m speaking out the best way I know how with my words. I was still in class when polls started to close on the east coast and I was anxious to see how America was voting. I wasn’t surprised when I saw the numbers for the first time. Trump was leading in electoral college votes, but those were from predominantly red states. The night was young and we still had a long way to go. At the start of the day, I thought there was no way Trump would be triumphant. Hillary had this in the bag. I do think it’s important to note that I am not Hillary Clinton’s biggest fan either. I didn’t think she was the best candidate for the job, but she was who America elected to be the Democratic nominee. I respected that and I respect her. I stood with her. I still stand with her. I will continue to stand with her. But about 15 to 20 states in, I started to worry. I could not believe what I was seeing. The map before my eyes was being painted red. I still had hope, but I could feel my anxiety rising. I was on assignment for my college newspaper covering a city council candidate’s campaign party when I got the news that Trump won Ohio and Florida. Even with California and its 55 electoral votes, I knew it was over. Hillary had no chance of winning. That’s when my anxiety kicked in. The worst attack I’ve had in years. I couldn’t breathe. I sat in a corner and tried to control my breathing. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe what was about to happen. I was back in the newsroom when I got word that
Under Trump, Country
I liked and retweeted some posts, but I decided I was not in the right state of mind to share my own opinions, so I kept quiet and planned to stay quiet for some time.
And as a bisexual person of color, I cried for myself. I finally felt comfortable enough to accept the
I went to sleep hoping Ashton Kutcher would tell America in the morning that we’d just been Punk’d. President Obama was right when he said the sun will rise again in the morning, because it did and our world was still intact. It was no different from any other morning. I participated in TASTE, a mentor/mentee and networking event Fresno State’s MCJ Department hosts yearly, and went about my day. That changed when my best friend called to check up on me. He knew how closely I followed the presidential election and how much it meant to me. I told him I was disappointed and embarrassed in America’s choice. Then he asked if I was scared. And it hit me. It finally hit me that it was not like any other morning. America had elected a racist, sexist, misogynistic,
homophobic and xenophobic white supremacist as the leader of the free world - among other horrible, deplorable things. I pulled over, sat in my car and I cried to him. And I cried for Hillary Clinton, who dedicated her entire career to get to where she is today, only to be defeated by someone who feeds on hate.
Must Unite Against Hate
I cried for the women, the Muslims and blacks, the Mexicans and the minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, the undocumented and the refugees - among others who now have to take extra precautions when in public. I cried for the parents who have to explain to their sons and daughters why someone like Trump is now their president.
We have fought way too hard and way too long for the rights we have now. We cannot go back. So, Trump - I do want to congratulate you. Congratulations on somehow managing to fool folks that you’re the right candidate for this job, even with your lack of political experience, and get enough votes (electoral votes, anyway; Hillary beat you in popular votes) to win. The day after the election, I read dozens of hate and harassment stories that your supporters have unleashed on the innocent. Just one day.
I cried for the children who will You may have won the presidency, but you are not my president and you never will be. be raised in an era of Donald Trump. I love my country way too much to just give up and move on. Instead of moving to Canada, let’s stay I cried for the violence, the and stand in solidarity together. harassment and the bullying that have taken, and will take, We cannot give in to fear, hatred and bigotry. We place in the coming days. need to get more involved, not less. I even cried for the people who have been blinded by Trump’s We need to use our voices and power for change. Rally together and protest (peacefully, please). ideology of what makes America great and for those who cannot We must fight for our country – what it really find it within stands for – and move forward. themselves We must protect each other from the hate and the to have violence heading our way. sympathy for people and the dangers they are about Don’t stand idly by. We cannot give up just because Trump won. We can’t. to face.
person I am, but now I feel like I have to return to a place I had no intentions of ever going back to.
And as a bisexual person of color, I cried for myself. I finally felt comfortable enough to accept the person I am, but now I feel like I have to return Words. Johnsen Del Rosario. to a place I had no intentions Art. Kody Stoebig. of ever going back to. Part of me fears to be the person I have grown to love and part of me is scared to be with the person I love. I cried for the women who thought they would finally see a woman with the credentials get the job, But I live in a community that makes me feel safe. I know that I will get back home safe each night. At only to lose it to a reality TV star. least I hope I will. I cried for the victims who will have a president who likes to grab women “by the pussy,” as Trump But I know that that’s not the case for everybody and that does not sit well with me. himself admitted while on the set of “Access Hollywood” in 2005, and thinks it’s okay because of his celebrity.
Love trumps hate. Together, we can make a difference. And to the folks who are afraid, know that you are not alone. I stand with you. To the folks who have already experienced the hatred Trump brought out in people, I am so sorry you had to go through that. I stand with you. To everyone who refuses to accept our current circumstances, we need to unite – not divide. We need to come together and fight to make our country a place where everyone is safe and no one is “other”. We must work together to ensure a better future during and after Trump. Because after the next four years, we really will need to make America great again.
The View From Down Here