“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” ~ Mexican proverb
I’m excited to be joining Powerful Voices (PVs) awesome Staff as their Employment Coordinator. As PV’s Employment Coordinator I’ll be overseeing our employment opportunities for young folks who identify as girls/women who are a part of the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.
Young folks build a positive and supportive culture together, build social justice analysis, and work collaboratively on various social justice projects such as our annual youth-led social justice conference, Girlvolution, or a zine that showcases their collective and individual writing. This is the heart of our programming, in addition to job readiness skills. Employment or opportunities like this can be really impactful in a young person’s life. Often young folks don’t have access nor agency of their lives and are often told what to do (or not do) by adults. This pertains to how and where they learn, resource and financial access, emotional, physical, spiritual, mental stability and health, etc. Although adults may have the best intentions, young folks know their own experiences and can, either with or without support and guidance, identify what’s necessary and best for themselves. And sometimes well-meaning adults can actually have a deep impact on young folks’ sense of self, their sense of hope, or sense of future. And for young folks who live in neighborhoods that have fewer resources, unsupportive systems and institutions, and experience structural violence and oppression, sometimes life becomes more about surviving rather than thriving. Young people of color, women and girls, LGBTQ youth, youth from poor and working class experiences, immigrant and refugee youth deserve to thrive. Employment opportunities for young folks is one way we can intervene in systemic violence and support young folks in having just a little more agency, just a little more self-determination.
I was asked to choose a picture to go along with my blog post and something I think about a lot is who/what has shaped me as a young person and as a queer person of color. And every time, I think of Gloria E. Anzaldúa. Gloria was a Chicana lesbian feminist, writer, activist who brought women of color voices and work to the forefront of social justice. Reading her work, specifically her book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, was a profound and life changing moment in my life. Her words taught me and made sense of my racial identity, my queerness, and experiences growing up as a child of an immigrant father. Its people like this: women, women of color, queer women, who change the world and the ways we see it. People like her make it more possible for us to vision another liberated world.
Yecelica Jaime Valdivia