Youth of Color at the Crossroads of Civic Engagement and Empowerment

Authors: Robert Foran*,
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Environment, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: youth empowerment, leadership, civic engagement, solution-based, team-building, community-based participation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon A2, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Voices of youth of color (YOC) have been historically underrepresented and suppressed, especially when it comes to representation in public spaces. Upon the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016– the threat of a Muslim ban, the building of a wall along the border of Mexico and the United States, ICE raids in Sanctuary cities, and the rescinding of the DACA Program – YOC (especially immigrant YOC) have faced an untold amount of oppressive obstacles. Having facilitated several small after school environmental justice classes in the fall of 2015 at Oak Grove High School, which has a predominantly Latino/a population in San Jose, CA, eventually led six students in becoming the driving force in the creation of a community-based participatory program called The Crossroads Forum 2016: A Convergence on the Discussion of Food, Water, and Homelessness at San Jose State University. Presented with the challenges of unpacking the issues of food (in) justice, cultural water rights and access, and displaced communities, the students confronted these obstacles head on by creating real-time solutions in the process of engaging in the public discourse that they themselves designed. It is through avenues of public interaction such as these that give YOC a space to explore, deconstruct, and ultimately bring their voice into the conversation. Public forums such as these provide opportunities for them to become agents of change for themselves and in their communities. This presentation shares these discoveries and challenges as we encountered them along our journey together.

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