By Brandon McFarland
This week on the Youth Radio podcast, we explore computer programming in communities where that knowledge isn’t commonly spread. Our reporter hits the streets in Oakland, California to find out what they know about programming. Also, we talk with the founder of a San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit that teaches coding to young girls of color.
Subscribe to our Podast on Stitcher.
(Photo: Marco Perez, a senior at Roosevelt High School, gained confidence from the school’s Dreamers Club. / Photo by Mitzy Ballesteros)
This story was published on Boyle Heights Beat.
By Mitzy Ballesteros
Seventeen-year-old Marco Pérez seems like an ordinary teenager. He wakes early each morning and rides his bicycle to Theodore Roosevelt High School. As a senior, he is applying to college. Yet he has a challenge unlike those of most other college-bound students. He is a “dreamer,” an undocumented immigrant student with dreams of legalizing his immigration status in the United States.
High school is a time when most teens struggle with belonging, but being undocumented can add to the feeling of alienation. Undocumented students often avoid being active in their communities to minimize the chances of getting caught by immigration authorities. “I had the fear of getting caught by cops, and I would fear going into deportation procedures,” says Pérez.
Well before President Barack Obama’s new policy toward dreamers opened up new opportunities, high school dreamers clubs have helped undocumented students like Pérez, providing guidance for continuing education and helping them find financial aid. The clubs also provide students with a secure place to fit, giving them the chance to lean on each other and share similar fears about their futures.
Eileen Truax, a journalist who is writing a book on the dreamers’ movement, says dreamers clubs have increased in the last three or four years, especially in states where there are significant undocumented teen immigrants.
“The main idea of these groups was to organize other students, to let them know that they have certain rights, that they can stand up for those rights, and they can fight for a better life,” Truax says.Read more...
Rising political star, Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, Texas and keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, will be the main attraction at the Barbara Lee and Elihu M. Harris Lecture Series in Oakland, Calif. this weekend.
The lecture series features leaders who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, and is being billed as a tribute to the social justice work of Congresswoman Lee and Mr. Harris.
Although Castro was too young to work with Dr. King himself, he is the son of a civil rights activist. His mother, Rosie Castro, was one of the leaders of La Raza Unida, a movement in Texas that stood for civil rights for Mexican-Americans, according to the New York Times.
Many Democrats are mentioning Castro’s name as a potential presidential candidate. Back in 2010, the Times described him as, “cerebral, serious, self-contained and highly efficient. If he were an energy source, he’d be zero-emission.”
Castro supports affirmative action and points to his own experience as an example of its success. He was admitted to college despite mediocre SAT scores and went on to Harvard Law School. He is pro-choice, and served as grand marshal in the gay rights parade in San Antonio, while identifying as a Roman Catholic.
Watch Castro's speech at the Democratic National Convention below.
Colleges and universities are being forced to face sexual assault on their campuses. Students and victims of sexual assault are speaking up about attacks, campus newspapers and bloggers are publishing personal testimonies of assault, and university administrations are coming under fire for mishandling assault cases.
The New York Times recently published a collection of op-eds about whether sexual assault on campus should be handled by the university, or by a court of law. The opinions varied widely.
Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor who specializes in sex crimes and teaches at New England Law in Boston, wrote that all campus assault should be turned over to the police, as well as handled seriously on campus -- sending the message that rape will be treated as a “crime in the wider world, and as a violation of women’s civil rights on campus.” She wrote:
“Some argue that mandatory reporting to police or prosecutors would keep women from reporting when they are attacked. But studies show that what keeps victims from filing complaints is their fear of a law enforcement system that can be punitive or traumatizing. That is what needs to be addressed. With only 5 percent of rape victims reporting now, the rate can only get better.”
Dana Bolger, a law and social thought major at Amherst College, thinks that simply referring campus rape cases to law enforcement could disempower victims. “The increasingly popular demand that colleges be required to turn adjudication over to the courts, regardless of survivors’ wishes to the contrary, is disempowering, forcing survivors to participate in a process they may not want,” she wrote.Read more...
(Left to right: Pastor Brooks (Mark Smith) comforts a grieving mother (Celeste Williams) and her son (Charles Gardner) in Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ world-premiere production of How Long Will I Cry?: Voices of Youth Violence, by Miles Harvey, directed by Edward Torres. How Long Will I Cry? runs February 26 – March 23, 2013 in Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted St)
By Donisha Dansby
“How Long Will I Cry: Voices of Youth Violence” is a new play at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. The play depicts young people who were involved with gangs, and participated in or were victims of street violence. It follows the true stories of young people in Chicago.
Miles Harvey, a teacher and journalist, wrote the play based on interviews he did with young people who had experienced street violence first-hand. Harvey explained that he wanted to empower kids in rough neighborhoods to see that they have another choice besides a life of street violence.
We got to read some of the interviews in story form -- they were graphic, intense, and tragic. We asked Harvey what message he wanted to send the audience.”It’s not an optimistic message, but it’s not a pessimistic message either... What I want people to do is think about this problem in an open and realistic way. We don’t know if we can offer any solutions to it -- [but] it’s important to look at it with a skeptical, realistic, and hopeful eye.” he said.
To gather stories and information for the play, Harvey and his team talked to parents of victims, community activists, and even the county coroner, and of course young people. Many were hesitant to talk at first, but Harvey said they wanted to be heard.
Harvey said he feels more a part of his city by getting out into neighborhoods he'd never been in before. “We all get in our ruts, and we don’t leave our little neighborhoods, our little worlds in Chicago... There were neighborhoods I’d never been in and I’ve lived in Chicago my whole adult life. I feel like a real citizen of Chicago,” he said.Read more...
Editor’s note: The recent news coverage of gun violence in the United States has spotlighted the victims of shootings, like 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton. But a column in the New York Times by Alex Kotlowitz raises a related issue that many young people living in urban environments can relate to: the residual trauma of witnessing a violent crime. Kotlowitz argues gun violence causes ripple effects that often go unnoticed in communities, because the victims do not necessarily end up in the hospital.
Alvaro Alonzo, 22 years-old, lives in Washington D.C. He remembers when gun violence affected someone close to him and how it led Alonzo to drop out of school.
By Alvaro Alonzo
The problem with guns is that, unlike a pencil, their lead can’t be erased. One very nice and sunny day, a friend of mine, Frankie, joined me for lunch. While we were hanging out, a group of kids were having a conflict about some new Air Jordan shoes that had just been released in stores. The situation escalated into a fight and they eventually took it to a local church parking lot down the street. People followed, as well as my friend, to go see the fight. I decided to go my own way because a little fight over shoes really wasn’t anything new to me.
About two hours later, people everywhere were talking about how the fight got out of hand and that three people were injured, and one guy shot down. I asked who was killed. They responded with my friend’s name, Frankie. My friend, who I had just seen, and gone to school with for three years, had been killed and had nothing to do with the beef. At this point, so many questions were racing through my mind like, “Why did he go to see that fight? Why didn’t I just take him with me?” I felt sick to my stomach and could only imagine what else we could have done other than part ways. I didn’t go to school the next day because it wouldn’t be the same without my friend. I didn’t talk to anyone for days. I just kept thinking about grabbing a gun and destroying other peoples’ lives. That was actually the last day I went to school. It was also the first day I realized that doing harm to another person would only keep the cycle of gun violence going.Read more...
The following aired on KCBS.
By: Sheila Blandon
I started living a double life on my very first day of kindergarten.
About half of the students were native Spanish speakers, and during recess Latinos were a target for bullies. The words “beaner,” “wetback” and “immigrant” were everyday taunts. Even kids who were born here were told to go back where they came from. But I was an exception, I didn’t have a common Latina name like “Ana” or “Maria.”
When my teacher first called me Sheel-ah, I didn’t correct her because I didn’t want to make things complicated. And soon it became convenient.
By the time I got to high school, I thought of myself more as Sheelah than the name that I was actually given at birth. But Chay-la was still alive though. She was there every time my parents called me “amor” or “Hija.” And she was there whenever I introduced myself to Latinos, saying “Me llamo Chay-la, Me llamo Chay-la, Me llamo Chay-la.”
Finally, last fall I decided to reintroduce the world to that person.Read more...
Adobe Flash Player is not installed. Please download and install it to listen to audio.
By Chris Alsobrook
A recent New York Times article explained a program in Harlem and the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York called the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program, J-RIP for short. The New York police say they are trying to turn around the lives of juveniles who have been arrested for robberies, to prevent future crimes by those same youth, and bring down the juvenile robbery rate. A few hundred teens who have been arrested for robberies from those areas have been singled out for the program.
But it’s not your average intervention program. According to the article, police follow the teens on Facebook and Twitter, form relationships with their parents, say hello in front of their friends and flag these teens in the police and court databases.
The program has raised a lot of concerns about profiling. Blogger anarcho-queer writes, “Both Brownsville and East Harlem are largely black and Latino, making over 85% of the population in each neighborhood, meaning JRIP disproportionately targets minorities who live in public housing and subjects them to continual harassment by the NYPD who claim to be practicing tough love.”
After analyzing the details of the program, I believe the benefits, like when one officer found a summer job for a JRIP youth, to be outwayed by the downsides. And I can’t help but have a lot of questions.
Here are a few:
- To what extent is the power dynamic between the police and young people being abused?Read more...
The California Alliance For Arts Education launched a Student Voices campaign to send messages to legislators about why California should keep the arts alive in high schools. Due to recent budget cuts, art programs have been dying out in a lot of high schools. The campaign has asked for video submissions from students around the state to explain to elected officials why they believe art is important in schools.
Youth Radio spoke with a couple students involved in the campaign, and asked them why they participated.
Andio Manguray is a senior at Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles, CA. He participated in making the video below. To Manguray, art is more than an extracurricular activity. He told Youth Radio, “I know a couple of people that are so exposed to the arts, they are able to understand a lot of concepts more, because the art involves a lot of technique; memorization of lines, dance steps or different color blends. “ Manguray has also learned from art how to be open and comfortable in his own skin. “One thing that theater has taught me is how to be personable and how to talk to people... Theater gave me a voice and it allowed me to use that voice.”Read more...
The following aired on KCBS.
By: Kendrick Calkins
To run track, I'll be giving up two important things. My job, but more importantly, my daily interactions with my family. I'll end up being a ghost in my own house.
Sweaty and tired from the day's track practice, I walk into my house, wanting so bad for the smell of dinner to hit my nose, and my family to come usher me inside. But it's already eight o'clock and my family are early birds. So I'm greeted only by my father's loud snoring, and hushed sighs from the rest of my slumbering family.
I have a 4.0 grade point average. But, college representatives and school counselors say that I'm going to need something spectacular on my college applications besides just grades. That's why I run track. I'm trying to get to the state races this year and next, so I can have that extraordinary achievement to show off when applying to college and scholarships.
Not seeing my family five days out of the week saddens me a little. But I now that this temporary downside will lead to a permanently better future; for me and my family.Read more...
Adobe Flash Player is not installed. Please download and install it to listen to audio.