Testimonies on Youth Violence and Nonviolent Lifestyles
This post is part of our Silence the Violence series in commemoration of National Silence the Violence Day on July 24th, 2010.
By Kit Evans for Pace e Bene Community
Prostitution, gang violence, murder, bullying, knives, and guns are just a few of the many harsh realities young people face in Oakland, California and urban communities around the Unites States. Though this is the reality for many, there is a generation of youth who have refused to contribute to the violence plaguing Urban America. These young people have experienced violence both personally and communally, however, they have chosen to stand for nonviolent alternatives.
This summer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service and Hip Hop Caucus to launch the Nonviolent Options Project. We support the emergence of a nationwide movement to stand for a nonviolent lifestyle and social change. This team has partnered with community organizations working with youth in Oakland creating powerful, creative, and respectful ways for youth to share, hear, gather, and communicate stories of 1) their experience of violence and 2) their experience of nonviolent alternatives.
I have sat down with over 15 youth who have shared their powerful testimonies. Their voices of hurt impact me greatly- A young man’s mother was stabbed 27 times, a young woman walking down the street was randomly attacked and stabbed, another young man’s friend was shot 17 times, multiple young women’s fathers were murdered and/or sent to prison. I hear the hurting voices, my chest tightens, my heart pounds, and the tears fall alongside the tears of the young person that I am blessed to interview.
I also sit hearing their voices of perseverance and hope. Dance, poetry, God, mother, siblings, rap, singing, the Ella Baker Center, and Youth Uprising are some of the many seeds that have given these youth outlets of expression, release, and purpose that has helped them nurture a nonviolent lifestyle. These testimonies have inspired me in a mighty way.
The Nonviolent Options Project is powerful. Every young person has a story and their voice deserve to be heard! Young people need to know that they are not alone in their stance for a peaceable future even in the midst of a sometimes extremely violent world.
The youth featured in the Nonviolent Options Project share their reality and hardships with us, while also discussing how they have learned to work through struggle. Watch as these youth offer words of hope, passion, healing, and peace. Start by listening to Jerricka’s story. It is the first video in our series, so stay tuned for more. These testimonies will be shared at paceebene.org, hiphopcaucus.org, and other social media sites.
Kit Evans is the Nonviolent Options Project/Nonviolent Stories Project Co-Coordinator of Pace e Bene. For more information on the Nonviolent Options Project please visit our website and/or call Pace e Bene at 510-268-8765.
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