A Journey of Resist(ance): from three time grantee to Resist staff member
I'm honored to serve as Resist's new Director of Finance and Operations. My journey with Resist goes back 16 years when the group I was a part of first received Resist funding. Both then and two times since, I have experienced the difference Resist makes by seeding grassroots work for freedom and justice. As I share a little of my journey with Resist, please consider making an end of year donation today, if you haven't already.
In solidarity and with love,
Rafael and I sent out an invitation to about 60 friends to gather at his house in Jamaica, Queens the day after "Thanksgiving"/Day of Mourning, to come together to start a liberation school. About 30 folks showed up and we talked for hours about who we should work with, where, what we should do, when we would meet, and most of all what dreams we had. We left that day with a commitment to meet monthly in political study groups and read Paulo Freire, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Myles Horton, James Baldwin and many others. Two years later we were ready. We named ourselves Quilombo NYC, after the escaped slave societies throughout South America. We applied and received funding from Resist to launch our first youth program, Quilombo Summer, with the purpose of creating a free space in a slave society. We worked with 10 youth, and doubled that the following summer, in creating a transformative social justice education and organizing space for them to thrive in.
The dream of Quilombo NYC lasted a glorious five years (1998-2003) and taught me so much about liberatory education. I brought these lessons to Boston where in June of 2004, I was working with a 15 year old undocumented young person named Gerdon. He and I sent out a similar invitation to about 25 of his friends to come to my house for pizza and to hear about an opportunity to make a difference in their community. Fourteen people showed up and joined us for what I thought would be a similar summer program that we called Spontaneous Summer (named after the community center we were based out of Spontaneous Celebrations). Only the young people decided that too many of their friends were dying, and so instead of ending in August, they launched Beantown Society – a "by youth, for youth" program whose purpose was to unite youth across race, class, culture, and neighborhood to end youth violence.
No adults thought they would succeed, with no money especially. That fall we wrote our first grant request to Resist to help pay stipends to the youth leaders running the program. Ten years later Beantown Society is one of the leaders of the youth justice movement here in Boston, and is led by one of its founders.
By this point I was serving as the Co-Director of The City School, a youth justice organization in Boston that works across race and class to develop and strengthen youth to become effective leaders for social justice. Our young people were core leaders of the Youth Jobs Coalition (YJC), which had just won $4 million in restored funding for youth jobs in the Massachusetts state budget. The young people and adults at The City School and our closest allies wanted to expand into a multi-issue platform for youth justice, and for this reason and others spun off from YJC to form the Youth Justice and Power Union.
One of the first steps the young people did was apply and receive funding from Resist to pay for youth lead organizers.
I am excited to be a part of Resist's staff as the Director of Finance and Operations. As you can see, Resist has supported my work so deeply, and more importantly supported liberatory youth programs that has impacted hundreds if not thousands of young people.