Location: Livermore, CA, United States
Campus: Las Positas College - Livermore, CA
Fellowship Class Year: 2007
Featured Fellow Spotlight
What do you stand for?
I stand for affordable housing, education and decolonization.
What inspired you to apply for the YP4 fellowship?
I had worked at People For the American Way as a policy and field intern. I was helping out Young People For as part of my work and a supervisor encouraged me to apply. Ever since I’ve been accepted, I’ve been so grateful.
What have you been involved with since the YP4 Summit?
Right after the Summit, I went abroad and studied social movements and sustainable development in Mexico with the Mexico Solidarity Network. After that I did a Union Summer Program with AFL-CIO where I was trained in union organizing, working with predominantly Mexican immigrants in the construction industry in Arizona. Now I’m back at school in my first semester at San Francisco State.
What have been your major struggles and your major successes?
My major struggle over the past four years has been making it through school. While I’ve been fine academically, I think it’s sometimes hard for people whose parents didn’t go to college to then understand and figure out how college works while still finding time to spend with your family and be involved outside of school. My major successes have been outside of school, in organizing people and staging actions and protests.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I just want to be a good role model for the people around me, especially for young people. I know there’s a lot steering youth today towards negativity; people try to criminalize youth, there are gangs and so many other issues. But there are also a few things steering people into positive action such as having mentors or good afterschool programs. I would like to be that role model for [young] people and try to help them learn and organize against something themselves, working specifically with younger people in high school and middle school.
Who or what inspires you to do the work you do?
The Zapatistas — they changed my life. They really drastically altered the way I look at my life and the world. When I went to Mexico, I got to see how they live autonomously and collectively. They have a government but it’s really a government of the people, built on social justice principles. They are actively trying to build equality for all and resisting globalization really effectively, and this is an inspiration.
What have you learned from your sessions with Cathy Wasserman and your experience with H.O.M.E.Y? How have you used these skills and tools at your work?
Cathy Wasserman is amazing! She really makes sense out of the job process and all the nuances that go into it. The YP4 network in general has really helped me not just with H.O.M.E.Y but with anything in the progressive movement. It’s always important to find people to connect to. YP4 is really great about finding those connections in whatever you’re doing, whatever issue you are working on. From the Summit, having the skill for power analysis is really crucial when you’re doing any type of organizing.
H.O.M.E.Y is a really cool organization because they work with primarily young Latinos in the Mission District in San Francisco. They’re unique because they really incorporate culture and cultural resistance into their organizing principles. I’ve learned a lot about Aztec culture and the American Indian movement and this has allowed me to learn more about my indigenous roots. They have great educational trainings for youth about decolonization and teaching the real truth about Columbus, or manifest density, for example.
The main thing we’re focusing on right now is working against the gang injunction, which is a new idea that cities are using to fight gangs. It started in L.A. and essentially it establishes a gang list (which we are not sure how they collect) and a gang zone, which limits people’s ability to be in this area. For example, if you’re on a gang list, you can’t be in the zone in certain hours of the night. It’s a system of limiting people’s human rights and criminalizes young people in general. Cops are always looking for anyone who fits the profile and this leads to harassment and criminalization. The Mission District is also fighting gentrification and the area hit most by the gang injunction is, of course, the one area that is not being gentrified. People think they’re hitting that area so that it will seem like the city is fighting drug crime and developers will then be interested. My work here has really taught me about the way in which youth are criminalized.
How can students on other campuses whoare interested in similar issueslearn from your experience and take action? Do you have advice or resources to share?
My advice is that it’s not about how many boards you can sit on or committees you can chair, it’s about how many people you can reach, how you can be a mentor to other people and be a service to people on campus, form coalitions with people and other groups, At the end of the day, organizing is about people and forming good relationships with people and that’s what it’s about for me.
What do you hope your role with the steering committee will be?
I feel very humbled by the opportunity to be on the steering committee. We’re supposed to be [the new class of fellows’] first introduction at the Summit. I’m really excited to be that resource for people. I hope I can also learn more from the new class of fellows and be a good mentor for other people in the program as well as be a resource for people who are new to the progressive movement.