article written by: Angelica Owens, Jabrea Reid, and Lucas Borschell of The Gender Benders Squad in the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center
On February 10th, 2016, we (the Attic Youth Center WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media interns) attended a Social Justice panel at Temple University. It was hosted by the POWER Internship. The panelists included TS Hawkins, Ociele Hawkins, Ismael Jimenez, Kahsara White, and Dr. Anthony Monteiro. It was moderated by Celine Martin and Rolando Barbon. The program, POWER, is a young people's project that does videos about social issues. The subjects that were discussed include race, gender, etc. The panelists were discussing the issue of race in America and how it affects the things that we need to survive as people.
Celine Martin started addressing the problem by posing the question, “why is power important”? When it comes to the concept of power, we immediately think of social issues, such as the unfair advantage white people hold in America and the rates at which school funding is being cut. The concept of “modern slavery” is also a very interesting one. TS Hawkins stated that “slavery was never gone, so it can’t be considered “modern”. Whether people know it or not, slavery is still happening. This generation is just beginning to tackle the bull head on. White people are unaware of the ongoing struggles of people of color because the system is built to cater to people who are melanin deficient. They can be so blind that they don’t even see how slavery is still happening around us. Ismael Jimenez said “In some ways, society has always enslaved and will continue to do so. Whether it be socially or economically or other.” This strikes a strong ember about the social conditions today, which must be brought to light. When people bring these problems to the light they so desperately needed, there is also the problem of finding ways to express the concern without being overpowering.
JK Rowling once said, “understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery”. This is extremely reminiscent of the opening poem at the Social Justice Panel, “They’ll Neglect to Tell You”. The poem which was written by TS Hawkins, talks of all the things society will not tell you, and that it can be hard to get to the truth. The truth of the situation is the ongoing challenges that face our (black and brown) youth today as TS stated. A black LGBT student misses school once or twice a week because of fear of discrimination. They were taught to exist, but not to accept because of erasure; erasure being the tendency for groups to ignore the existence of minority. This dehumanizing act has profound effects on people who are the minority racially. We lack acceptance in the world, which is part of the reason why LGBT youth are four times more likely to commit suicide, according to the Trevor Project.
Power is important because it is the thing that turns racial prejudice into benign racism, the privilege which can be used to discriminate and cause the societal problems. Societal problems that are not new, but have always existed against these groups of people, as stated in the discussion about “modern slavery”. This is an extremely important subject to discuss, which is apparent in the panelists. Dr. Anthony Monteiro told us about the wide spread of the issue by informing us about the “One Drop Rule”. The One Drop Rule is, if going back four generations, there was someone who was a slave, you were Black. Anybody who was a slave was supposed to be a slave because they’re African and “must serve” other races. The emphasis put on the subject with this is staggering. Though, the panelists did explain how we can fight these societal problems. “You don’t have to go to college to fight” says Isamel Jimenez. He continued, "in fact, you can start right now, as youth!" A positive message is all that is needed to empower youth and allow them to start the fight, that hopefully with time will allow us to solve the problems plaguing this society.