We cannot charge the future if we are not plugged into the present
Statement from the EYEJ Youth Council
Our country is in a very dark place right now. As the EYEJ Youth Council, we will continue to represent, be the voice of, and be a beacon lighting the way for youth of all colors and creeds. It is unjust that African Americans, for generations entitled to equal consideration under the law, are still subjected to the excessive force by law enforcement that has been wrongfully taking place for centuries in every state, across America. It should not have been necessary for citizens to be exposed to these gory images, compelling them to corral themselves into the streets as they demand change. It should not have taken these horrific events to show people of a higher authority that this is not a departmental issue or even a localized issue.
This is a human rights issue. The right of African American men, women, and children to be exempt from heinous, genocidal levels of abuse by law enforcement is as essential as food, clothing, and shelter.
As the EYEJ Youth Council, we respond with great vigor by creating policy to reestablish or educate young people about these rights. Yet this task is not feasible when a significant number of the youth we are attempting to reach are virtually out of touch. Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) includes 38,000 students in 27,000 families. 40% of those families do not have access to broadband internet. Two-thirds of the children in CMSD do not have appropriate e-learning devices.
We are shifting our brainstorming, programming, and policy recommendations to focus on digital connectivity. Through the coronavirus outbreak, it has become evident that many families, African American in particular, have experienced challenges obtaining what they need to sustain healthy and productive lifestyles. This includes children who do not have computers to finish their school work or reach out to classmates and teachers with questions. It means they are missing pivotal instructions we circulate on our devices on who, what, and where to contact the proper authority figures, to demand the changes we all are requesting. Without access to technology, these youth cannot grow with the changing society that they will soon be called upon to lead.
We are the eruption of power that sparked Cleveland to work on these issues in 2018. But we cannot proceed forward without addressing the issues that have persisted since African slaves docked on American shores in 1619. We hurt for the families of the lost. We fight to achieve tangible results from our work. Lastly, we amplify voices of the youth that experience this all.
2020 EYEJ Youth Council Team
Diamond Bottoson, Chantal Brown, Corrin Cooper, Ron Miller, Maranda Priah, Mallory Wilks, Frank Austin, Melissa Batz, Jonah Chapman-Sung, Sarah Edwards, Colin Geatz, Sam Grube, Yumi Ndhlovu, Batian Pienaar, Jothsna Sabbasani, Sriram Satyavolu, Denakpon Tchobo, Amrutha Yarlagadda
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