Our goal is personal agency and community agency. Voice is central to agency. It’s the ability to speak your peace, to project your ideas, to interact with others in a way and learn other people’s perspectives and opinions but also be able to inject yours, that is critical to health. You cannot have health without voice.
In mid-April of this year, the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from the Northeast portion of Nigeria by the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, was met with a tepid initial response by international media. Over the next several weeks the hashtag #bringbackourgirls, originally started by the local Nigerian community as #bringbackourdaughters, pushed the incident into the international spotlight through social media. We’Ced’s analysis of the incident led to a conversation about social media usage in social justice causes, sometimes called hashtag activism. We weren’t sure if hashtag activism was a lazy way of appearing to be part of a cause or an effective strategy in raising awareness.
This incident has again raised the issue of racism into the national spotlight. We’Ced took time to reflect and think: Do we see this type of behavior in other places of our lives? Sterling had a reputation for being a slumlord for many years prior to the tape leaks, why are we more fascinated by racist words than racist actions?
Merced County has the highest jobless rate for teens in the San Joaquin Valley, with an unemployment rate for 16-19 year olds twice the rate for those over 20. Raising the issue of investing in Merced youth is certainly important in the face of such widespread unemployment. As Jimenez said at the press conference, “all we want is a chance. We’re willing to work for it. Are city leaders willing to work with us by making the investment?”