Unfortunately, police violence continues across the country and fuels the media. Names like Eric Garner and Mike Brown are our buzz words when we talk to strangers about violence against women, lgbtq folks and people of color.
I was most nervous about the role play because I wanted to model all parts of the outreach script so that the youth can understand how to approach people. One of the youth helped me practice role play and he was super helpful and enthusiastic. I practiced my clipboard flip to get people to hold the clipboard and see the flyer and stay a while for the conversation.
When the time came on Saturday, we had an extensive workshop on exploring our personal stakes in the issue of police violence, and how we can engage the public in doing something about an issue we all care about together. We addressed fears and anxieties about talking to strangers and made our way to busy streets and intersections near the office to take on outreach and kick its butt!
It was pretty daunting and difficult for the youth and they faced a lot of discouragement and impoliteness. Coaches went around to check on all the youth outreachers and provide feedback and support.
All in all, we outreached to hundreds of people and got twenty or so people to commit to coming. Whether or not they all end up attending the art exhibit, we planted seeds in the public to care about an issue that affects us all. I am so so proud of the youth for stepping outside their comfort zones and taking a leap of faith.
I remember being 17 and walking into handball courts and basketball courts in my neighborhood park that I grew up in, scared shitless to talk to people about things that mattered to me. But when there is need for justice, we have to learn to be fearless. I saw the youth I worked with this summer change and grow from discouraged and confused to equipped and passionate. The movement for racial economic and gender justice is making strides with every youth that takes on outreach and a stand.