Youth are “Swagn4Justice”
As a young woman of color, I find it hard to stay focused in Oakland. Every night while I do my homework, I hear the rattling of gunshots bouncing off the cement sidewalks. I hear people yelling and crying after getting a call from the hospital, telling them a loved one has died from a gunshot wound. On my way to school last year, I saw a dead body lying in the middle of the street, right in front of an elementary school. Situations like these make it hard for youth to stay focused in Oakland because we have to worry about our survival rather than what homework is due at 8:30 AM the next morning. Although Oakland may be a low income community, a place where bad things happen to people everyday, it is still a great place; a place where hope is still alive.
On Novemeber 1st, I joined the new cohort of Heal the Streets fellows at the Swaggin’ for Justice youth rally. The event was located in front of City Hall in downtown Oakland. Youth organizations, Urban Peace Movement and Revive Oakland put together a concert for all of Oakland to attend. This rally was a chance for youth to become aware of upcoming job fairs in the area and to fight for more jobs in our community. This was also a chance for youth to come out and have a good time with performances ranging from DJ Fuze to the TURF FEINZ & TURFIN' 24/7. This event empowered youth to do better in school and to say no to violence, while also giving them a space to listen to good music and be around positive people.
After going to Swaggin’ for Justice, I felt empowered watching the new fellows come together and celebrate themselves. I find it hard for us young folks to live in Oakland and stay out of trouble. The fact that we are youth of color also plays a role in our everyday life. The color of our skin creates a barrier for us because society looks down on people of color. So for organizations like Urban Peace Movement and Revive Oakland to take the time to educate youth of color, gives me hope for the future. It makes me realize that people do believe in us and we can succeed at anything we put our minds to. If you’re empowered about youth leadership and success in Oakland, please check out some of the Turf Feinz videos on Youtube and check out what our youth of the Heal the Streets program has accomplished. Dion Campbell is an alumni and current fellow with the Ella Baker Center's Heal The Streets youth fellowship. She is currently a student at WestED High School in Oakland.
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