All posts by Editor

Editor in Chief of the South Seattle Emerald

Easily Forgetten; Inconveniently Ignored

by drea chicas

Jaylen Fryberg. Photo: Youtube

The senseless shooting of a Black teen in the Midwest rightfully outraged us. Locally and nationally, conferences were organized, famous leaders mobilized. Water cooler conversations were even had on the disproportionate slaying of young Black lives. But when a Native American teen in the Pacific Northwest, one hour north of Seattle shot five of his friends and relatives and then shot himself, Seattle and the rest of the nation fell silent.

A fallen youth of color in America (no matter how they die) connects to the violent sins committed against marginalized groups in this country. The history of First Nation tribes and Indigenous people, including the Tulalip Tribes, is a history too easily forgotten and inconveniently ignored. Cities and valleys, like Snoqualmie, Puyallup, and Yakima in Washington State, reflect the longstanding history of Native tribes. Long before Christopher Columbus’ conquest and the arrival of English immigrants, Indigenous people were the original rulers of this land. When we questioned the violent actions of Jaylen Fryberg, did we also stop to consider the genocide committed against Native American people? It took a phone call form a concerned friend in Los Angeles, a poem, and the cry of an Indigenous woman to awaken my spirit.

Violence has become too commonplace—the history of Indigenous people far removed. The Tulalip Tribes released a statement this week ( stating that they did not condone Fryberg’s actions. It was the teen’s “individual action” not a reflection of his community or the tribes. But as someone who works and loves the youth, the shooting hits home. When will the violence stop? Why do we keep failing our youth?

Seattle we must do better. The deaths at Marysville Pilchuck High School must spring us to action. Violence continues to claim young lives while many of us sit on the sidelines, while youth kill themselves, kill their peers, and are slain by adults. Just as Michael Brown’s murder stirred the nation, so too must the tragedy of Jaylen Fryberg’s death. A life is not more valuable than another life. But the death of youth anywhere is a clamorous reminder.

So we must respond. Pour our love into youth, and affirm their voices. Then we must listen to their cry, and work to improve an education system that falls short. Our laws, our voting, our time and our money must be invested on the lives of youth, and in particular youth of color.

We must continue to invest in local program here in South Seattle that connect youth of color to their own histories and equip them to undo institutional racism like the Tyree Scott Freedom School. We must further their critical thinking skills, and arm them with developmentally appropriate social justice language as early as possible like the Urban Impact Freedom Schools. Finally, we must stand with the Tulalip community, in solidarity; grieving with the mothers who lost their babies, and inwardly reflecting on what we can do to invest in our children.

drea chicas is a community organizer who lives, works and plays in South Seattle

Jaylen Fryberg’s Twitter account. Source: Twitter

The Glory of “Group Training”

by Emily Williamson

A RHF member during Group Training

Rainier Health & Fitness member Nancy Shore was hesitant to try Group Training due to back pain, but within a year of working out three times weekly, she experienced both a stronger back and more energy. Recapping the transformation, Nancy wrote:

“I remember telling Patrick that I thought Group Training would be a bad idea due to back pain. Patrick told me that the Group Training would help my back and even promised me I’d gain the strength and form needed to pick up my son. I gave it a try and realized that Group Training would help me move beyond doing just cardio on the elliptical. The trainers are amazing at working with you and modifying the exercises as needed. My son is now five and over 50 pounds and I can still give him uppies. The Group Training classes have been amazing—my back is definitely better and the trainers and other gym members in the class always motivate me. I am definitely stronger than I’ve ever been and find that starting my day off with Group Training energizes me and helps me focus throughout my workday.”

Members like Nancy are exactly who the trainers have designed Group Training to impact. As a program of a non-profit in the Rainier Valley, Rainier Health & Fitness has attracted many residents who never before stepped inside a gym. Consequently, the staff found that a number of these newcomers are intimidated by weights and large equipment so stick to treadmills and ellipticals rather than pushing themselves to a total body workout.

To expand members’ fitness routines at a reasonable cost, the trainers implemented a program called Group Training. These workouts enable participants to vary their exercise routine, receive a total body workout and get guidance from a certified trainer…plus get to know a few of their neighbors in the process! Most importantly, the program encompasses three of RHF’s core values:

  1. Motivating members to take control of their preventative health
  2. Cultivating community
  3. Making high-quality fitness affordable and accessible.

Group Training is the type of service people would otherwise only get through Personal Training or CrossFit. And although RHF offers both Personal Training and CrossFit at rates greatly reduced from their competitors, many members still cannot afford these services. Group Training fills the gap. Compared to most gyms where a single session with a trainer costs upwards of $40/hour, Group Training gives members unlimited access to workouts guided by a certified trainer for just $30 per month (that breaks down to approximately $3/session for members who come at least 10 times in the month. Training is offered six days a week nearly every hour so if utilized more, the cost decreases even further).

Capping classes at a maximum of 6 people, trainers are able to offer more personalized feedback in Group Training than in larger CrossFit classes. Meanwhile, workouts offer varying routines so no two days are exactly alike. Sometimes members do circuits and other times a set number of reps. Unlike CrossFit, however, Group Training does not involve heavy lifting but follows the NASM Optimum Performance Training (OPT) Model focusing primarily on functional movements.

“We meet you where you are at based on your physical exercise capabilities and work on improving your capacity to perform functional and physical work,” says RHF trainer Patrick Otieno “For example, tasks requiring you to lift loads or move furniture without experiencing back pain.”

Although each session varies, Group Training breakdowns to essentially 5 phases:

  1. Warm up on a treadmill, rower, bike, elliptical or other cardio of choice (5-10 minutes)
  2. Stretch with a trainer (5 minutes)
  3. Core and corrective training (15-20 minutes)
  4. Circuit or muscle specific workout (20-25 minutes)
  5. Cool down (5 minutes)

One of the best aspects of Group Training is that it makes fitness fun. “Group training is fun and holds them accountable to coming to the gym,” said trainer Mike Nienaber. “There’s always variety, whether the instructor differs or the workout.”

Group Training isn’t for everyone. But for people who are new to fitness, who want to vary their workout without getting injured or who desire to connect to the local community, this program is perfect.  As Nancy said, “I also think the group training classes are very supportive and a lot of fun. I believe a strong sense of community forms through participating in these classes.”

Emily  Williamson is RHF’s marketing coordinator. Her own experience of suffering a back injury and recovering through exercises prescribed by a chiropractor who doubles as a cross-fit instructor gave her a passion for helping others experience life fully through fitness.

Residents Call “Stepping Forward” a Huge Step Backwards

by Curran Knox

Residents gather at City Hall plaza to protest potential Seattle Housing Authority rent increases. Photo Credit: Celia Berk

October, 24th Seattle- “Let us fight together, we will win” – Fatimah, a resident from Yesler Terrace called out on the microphone at Friday before last’s rally in opposition to the Seattle Housing Authority’s (SHA) Stepping Forward proposal- one that would affect many South Seattle residents. The protests have reached the epicenter of bureaucratic engagement, City Hall.

On the 4th Ave terrace, there were almost as many signs as there were people. The mostly adult crowd included residents and activists amongst the few trees and stone tiles that approached the seemingly never ending steps that led to the council chambers.

At the rally residents had the opportunity to share their mounting concerns about “Stepping Forward,” including their anxieties over potential evictions that could ensue if the measure was enacted, the struggle to afford rent at its current rate, language barriers that hamper communication with city officials, as well as doubts about any additional assistance the proposal will provide to low income households.

Over the course of the past two months the SHA  has held five Stepping Forward Open Houses across the city, including some at current and former public housing projects, such as Yesler Terrace, New Holly, High Point, in addition to the Rainier and Meadowbrook Community Centers.

At the Stepping Forward Open House that took place at the New Holly Gathering Hall- City Councilmember Kshama Sawant joined community members in organizing counter actions to what they feel is an SHA “public relations” tour.

During the High Point Open House, they successfully led a walkout were a large majority of individuals in attendance made a show of leaving the SHA meeting to occupy the community center’s gym- which had been reserved in advance.

A huge turnout of residents was also seen at the Yesler Open House, all with questions they felt the SHA has yet to address in regards to ensuring that the proposal created and maintained affordable housing in the Seattle area.

In response to an evaluation of the efficacy of the current subsidized housing system, SHA Executive Director Andrew Lofton drafted a new proposal that would affect 35 percent of households supported by the Housing Authority. The Stepping Forward Proposal would impact households receiving Housing Choice vouchers (Section 8) who have at least one “workable” adult.

While the proposal would potentially increase rents up to 400 percent over a 6 year period, in turn the SHA would provide additional employment and education assistance to help “workable” adults find sustainable employment.

“Workable” adults are considered to be anyone in a household between the ages of 24-61 who do not identify as having a disability that prevents them from finding employment. Should households be unable to pay the increasing rent then the Housing Authority will have the right to pursue evictions. Households with no “workable” adults will continue to pay income-based rent.

The current policy requires households to pay 30 percent of their income in rent with no fixed yearly increase. SHA has assessed that the resources currently available to households has not proved sufficient.

With the suggested proposal, SHA would also increase services available to tenants and households by providing more resources to obtaining financial success. All “workable” adults will have a workforce assessment plan managed by the SHA staff.

Considering that the SHA identified a lack of support and connection to resources as a crucial issue that exists with the current subsidized housing system, this plan would suggest increased staffing support and overall redetermination of the way in which SHA has been structured to provide support to households and tenants, and investments in city wide partnerships.

The amount of community feedback and protest has caused the Mayor and City council to take notice and question whether or not the needs of the communities in peril are being addressed in an equitable and responsible way. The entire City Council sent a  letter to Andrew Lofton, in opposition to the Stepping forward proposal earlier this month.

Some of the demands that residents and tenant activists want SHA to consider:

-Rejection of the SHA Stepping Forward Proposal

-Tenant activist to be appointed to the Mayor’s Committee on Housing Affordability

-The construction of more affordable housing for low income families

-Tenant representation in the SHA board appointment process

Serving as SHA’s Executive Director since 2012, Lofton also sits on Mayor Ed Murray’s newly minted Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee. In early September Mayor Murray issued a formal Housing Affordability Statement in which he expressed that “many of Seattle’s low-and middle-income workers families, artists, students, and immigrants new to our country are struggling to find homes at prices they can manage.”

Photo Credit: Celia Berk

SHA provides over 8,500 Housing Choice vouchers units, which allows low income families access to rent affordable and privately owned property. SHA also oversees approximately 6,000 public housing units, currently serving over 26,000 people combined. The Seattle Displacement Coalition reports that after the redevelopment of New Holly, Rainier Vista, Roxbury Village, and High Point, over 1000 public housing units have been lost as a result of the newer mixed income housing models. One can only guess that the redevelopment plan for Yesler Terrace housing project will displace some low income residents as well. This Phenomenon isn’t new, and as Jon Fox from the Seattle Displacement Coalition reported “They still think we are taking advantage of the system.”

Organizations that were present at the City Hall rally against the Stepping Forward Proposal included Socialist Alternative, The Tenant’s Union and Radical Women Seattle. This same contingent of protesters made a public address during the City Council business meeting directly following the rally, asking councilmembers to sign a petition in opposition to Stepping Forward. Only councilmembers Sawant and Mike O’Brien signed.

The contingent then took the petition to the Mayor’s office where they had the opportunity to speak openly with Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim. Though adults represented the majority of leadership at the rally, the presence of youth activists was hard to ignore.

“So many people that are great leaders in the community are teens. Let the youth voices be heard, let them speak up and have a voice,” Nimco

Nimco Abdirahman addressing City Council. Photo Credit: Celia Berk

Abdirahman expressed over the microphone, as one of the few youth voices represented at the rally.  As she addressed both the public and Deputy Mayor Kim, Nimco stated how important safe and affordable housing had been to her family. She also pointed out a potential shift in the distribution of resources that may have something to do with the redevelopment of public housing into mixed income communities.

Nimco spoke to the changing demographics of housing projects, and what this means as far as accessibility and equity within these restructured communities. She wants to illuminate awareness around the idea that there is money out there, but where it is- and why the system seems to continuously withhold options from low income residents in South Seattle- is a question all should be asking.

“No one in this community knows about scholarships,” she mentioned, recalling her own story of learning through a serendipitous occasion about the scholarships offered to youth living in the High Point community. Self-identifying as someone who has grown up in the system, she speaks to the changes seen in access and the equity of knowledge as some of the invisible barriers manifest in what was once a community serving only low income families, but now provides mixed income residents. Only certain people know about the scholarships, and for some reason, word hasn’t gotten around. Nimco expressed that once she found out, she told her mother that my little brother could be eligible for a scholarship and her family started telling others in the community that these scholarships were available so that some of the youth and families would know. Nimco envisions the creation of a youth council to advocate for youth and families in the community, as well as families. She already serves on the High Point Council and she is the youngest member by over ten years.

To help sustain attention around the issue, Radical Women of Seattle held a  forum at New Freeway Hall in Columbia City the day after the rally that consisted of community members, SHA staff, a former SHA commissioner, and residents from both New Holly and Yesler Terrace.

“We need to stop destroying what’s left of the affordable housing in this city, which is getting destroyed rapidly as neighborhoods gentrify, as buildings get sold to developers, as things like stepping forward goes and takes things that are currently affordable and turns them into transitional housing,” expressed Ted Virdone, Legislative Assistant to Councilmember Sawant.


Additional Resources:

The Stepping Forward Proposal and potential rent changes can be seen at the link below on Seattle Housing Authority’s page and is available in ten languages:

Mayor Murray’s Housing Affordability Statement:

Seahawks’ Game Day Prediction

by Clint Elsemore

Photo courtesy of

Back home after a season altering win at Carolina, the Hawks face the only remaining winless team in the NFL in the Oakland Raiders.  Most expect a walk over as the Raiders have struggled to even be competitive in most games this year, but they present some challenges to a Seahawks team still searching for an identity and consistent play in 2014.

Oakland boasts a defense that has some playmakers, especially 1st round draft pick Kalil  Mack who looks to be the best defensive player coming into the league this year.  Oakland has done surprisingly well containing the run game of opponents recently, and tends to get exposed when stretched vertically or spread out exposing their lack of depth in the secondary.   Oakland has also struggled mightily, creating few turnovers and giving the ball up, consistently placing their defense in difficult situations week after week.

On offense Oakland had done a tremendous job protecting their rookie quarterback in Derek Carr who has looked extremely competent during his rookie season.  Carr has kept his interception numbers in check, but has struggled with fumbles as have the Oakland running backs who have found yards hard to come by with the weakest running attack in the NFL this year.  Their inability to run the ball is also compounded by the fact they are constantly playing from behind and are usually trying to throw themselves back into ballgames.

The Raiders have not given up on their season yet with a new interim coach and a proud group of veterans to accompany good young talent on both sides of the line.  The Seahawks getting off to a fast start will be a key to owning this game early and not letting the light shine on Oakland and provide hope of the upset.  Expect the offense to run more consistently through Marshawn in this game with him getting 20+ carries and finally cracking the 100 yard mark.  Russell should have a strong game manager type of game completing 75% of his passes for 200 yards and adding 30-40 on the ground.  This Oakland team showed Seattle they aren’t afraid of their defense in the last preseason game this year getting off to a 21 nothing lead early and cruising to a 41-31 victory in Oakland, but this isn’t the preseason, and the overconfidence has been sucked out of this group of Seahawks.  I expect they take this game seriously and start to create the turnovers that have been so few and far between this season.  Injuries are taking their toll on every team at this point in the season, and the Seahawks are no different, but reclaiming their identity on the ground starts this week in a resounding way.

Final game prediction: Seahawks 30 Oakland 13

10 People Injured in Rainier Valley Crash

originally published on

SOUTH SEATTLE — Ten people were injured Friday evening in a massive, multi-vehicle crash in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood.

The crash happened at around 5 p.m. in the 9300 block of Rainier Avenue South, according to Kyle Moore with the Seattle Fire Department.

Moore said nine vehicles — including a police cruiser — were directly involved in the crash, but another six parked vehicles were damaged.

Police believe a man driving a white pickup truck was responsible for the crash. They say he pinballed down Rainier Avenue hitting cars, and only stopped after he crashed into the patrol car. (Read More)

This Weekend In South Seattle: Screech at the Beach on Halloween, Fight for Climate Justice and Become an Opera Snob

Events this weekend in the South Seattle area

Friday, October 31st

Children:  Details: Firefighters read fire safety stories to preschoolers, dress in full bunking gear and help children explore a fire engine or ladder truck.. – Time: 11:00am-12:00pm –Where: New Holly Branch Library (7048 32nd Ave)- More Info:

Movies: Opening of Dear White People – Details: Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent, Dear White People is a sly, provocative satire of race relations in the age of Obama. Writer/director Justin Simien follows a group of African American students as they navigate campus life and racial politics at a predominantly white college in a sharp and funny feature film debut that earned him a spot on Variety’s annual “10 Directors to Watch.”- Showtimes: 12:30pm, 2:30pm, 2:45pm, 4:45pm, 7:30pm, 9:45pm –Where: Ark Lodge Cinemas (4816 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Info

Community: Columbia City Halloween Trick- or -Treat Details:The Columbia City Business Association CBA will be hosting a neighborhood trick or treat. This is an opportunity for families to go around to local business and collect candy. Look for orange and black balloons in front of participating businesses. – Time: 3:00pm-6:00pm –Where: Columbia City- More Info:

Community: Boo Bash at the Beach Details: This is the inaugural event, establishing an annual safe and fun place for kids to Trick or Treat through booths sponsored by organizations and community groups, hosted in the east half of the Rainier Beach Safeway’s parking lot.  Booths will feature games and activities, including a photo booth and costume crafting booths. Kids can also interact with the Seattle Police Department Mounted Patrol, the Mobile Precinct van, and a Seattle Fire truck. – Time: 4:00pm-9:00pm –Where: Rainier Beach Safeway (9262 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA- More Info:

Music:  Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble CD Release and Halloween Party – Details: Wayne Horvitz has continually inspired new Seattle jazz. He launches this extraordinary three-part evening at 6pm leading Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, a large improvisational ensemble creating incidental music for the silent classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. At 8pm the group celebrates its new CD. Proceedings continue at 10pm with Electric Circus, Horvitz’s arrangements of the classic fusion and fission of Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and other little-performed gems of the new canon.- Time: 6:00pm-12:00am-Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Info

Community: Rainier Beach Pool Halloween Swim- Details: Come join in a a free community swim to celebrate Halloween-Time: 7:00pm –Where: Rainier Beach Community Center (8825 Rainier Avenue South)


Saturday, November 1st

Environment:SE Seattle Climate Justice Forum- Details: Got Green’s Young Leaders in the Green Movement team up with the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment to learn together about the impacts of climate change to our community in SE Seattle and what we can do about it.Time: 2:00pm-5:00pm-Where: South Side Commons (3518 South Edmonds Street) More Info:

Community:Rainier Vista Lantern Walk- Details: Create your own lantern and join your neighbors in touring through Rainier Vista neighborhoods and Cheasty Greenspace Time: 4:30pm-7:00pm-Where: Rainier Vista Central Park (4410 29th Ave S)

Music: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyessy – Details: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is the acclaimed, road-sharpened trio of Brian Haas (piano/Fender Rhodes/bass Moog/synth), Chris Combs (electric guitar/lap steel guitar/synth), and Josh Raymer (drums). “It swings, it sways, but the jazz trio form in their hands has an almost primitive, inside-your-head, idiosyncratic quality” (DownBeat). McTuff, Joe Doria’s full-bore organ trio with the impeccable Andy Coe on guitar and the dazzling Tarik Abouzied on drums is becoming a Seattle legend.- Time: 8:00pm-10:00pm-Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Info

Community: Detective Cookie’s Urban Chess Club with Pro Chess Instructor H.R.Pitre. Details: Learn to play chess from one of the best instructors in South Seattle Time: From 12:00pm – 2:00pm Where: Rainier Beach Community Center: 8825 Rainier Ave South Seattle.  More Info: 206-650-3621 (Detective Cookie)

Sunday, November 2nd

Music:  Kathy Moore and the Kicks – Details: Opera on Tap Seattle is a non-profit group dedicated to breaking down the stereotype that opera is an elitist art form by bringing opera to your local wine bar and pub. Join us for Royals at the Royal Room where we will celebrate all things bel canto. Featuring Megan Chenovick, Kim Giordano, Rob McPherson, Melissa Plagemann, Ksenia Popova & Charles Robert Stevens singing favorites by Donizetti, Rossini & Bellini.- Time: 8:00pm-10:00pm-Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Info


If you have an event to post, please email



Man Fatally Shoots Daughter and Grandchild

by Cornelius Williams/Staff Writer

South Seattle — Last night a man in his 60s shot and killed his daughter and teen granddaughter before fatally shooting himself, the Seattle Police Department said in a statement.

Police officers responded to a report of a shooting with multiple victims in the 6300 block of South Fountain Street just after 8:00pm.

Officials have stated that police received a call from a 10-year-old boy who said his grandfather brandished a handgun at the boy’s mother and sister before shooting them.  His grandfather then proceeded to turn the gun on himself.

Police discovered the three victims dead at the scene when they arrived.

No motive for the shootings has yet been determined.

Emily Taibleson: Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman

by Robin Boland


Taibleson’s contribution to the Columbia City Mural Project.

Artist Emily Taibleson went away to find her way back home. Her work currently on display at the Hillman City Collaboratory, a show entitled “Over the Stones on the Edge of a Bluff” (also the title of a compilation of poems she published in college), is a reflection of her personal journey as well as part of a larger community narrative. The story arc of the show follows Emily’s efforts to communicate her impressions and experiences on paper and canvas (and, in one piece that stayed with me, on dense burlap due to running out of canvas mid way through). Some pieces evoke the Northwest with color and texture, some reflect struggle and isolation in stark black and white. Throughout the show runs an underlying theme of connection and community.

One of Emily’s first jobs upon returning to the NW, after completing a rigorous arts program on the East coast, was a mural project intended as a vehicle to express the voices and stories of a group of at risk youth. In projects like this she acted as the framework within which the young artists learned to become the narrators of their own tale.  This community method of storytelling is again reflected in the Columbia City Mural Project, a large, vibrant mural on the west side of Rainier Ave S. (in the Hummingbird parking lot). A powerful piece, the mural project was a community effort weaving together a wide spectrum of voices. Emily was tasked with representing these contributors’ intimate stories and she did so with respect and consideration, feeling honored to represent these stories within the community. These projects highlighted for her what a privilege it is to have paint or canvas, to have a space to create or to display one’s work.  These things are ‘not a given’ despite what one might believe after being ensconced in an academic environment focused solely on creating art. The Collaboratory show in some ways reflects this change in her personal perspective, understanding the reality of privilege against the backdrop of being an artist.

Emily shared a sense of unburdening herself with this show, building off of the lessons she has learned up to now with an intention to re-focus and start fresh. Letting go of expectations, her own as well as the “industry’s”, has lead her to this jumping off place. The next chapter, blank canvas, awaits.

Sunday Stew: Who I Am

by Matt Sedillo

Who I am by Sladjana Endt


In a cave


At the Globe


On the Rhine

All roads

Lead to Rome


In his study




Freed the slaves

And history

Would not lie


On the Delaware

Take time

To learn

Your forebears


Are you



Are not

You are



Of nothing


Is written

To keep

Its victims


To think


Swarthy horde

Barbarian at the gate

Even in insult



From the soil


To be razed


Of burn codice


Without legacy


Without myth


Without legend

You bastard children


Seem to learn

Your lesson

The academy

Is no game

Of call

And response

It is the smoke rising

Of burning village


More construct

Than continent

Less land mass

Than concept

More west

Than civilization

More land grab

Than destination



I was taught

When I was young

I was not

A place

Where the census

Now tells me

To check

A box

Of Hispanic


Burned down the past

Now back for the rest


All that


From my chest

Born stateless

Heir to every injustice

Every pen

Every blade

Every cannon

Every burnt page

Born of 1846

Or was it 1538



Or of nothing

Of no one

The unsung ballad

Of history’s

Forgotten son

Tell me again

Who it is

That I am not

For some

Old world hardships


Against new shores


New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York

Plymouth Rock

For others

Pushed off

Turtle Island


Do not call this brown

Skin immigrant

Child of the sun

Son of the conquest

Mestizo blood

Born of the streets

Of South Seattle

Who draws his breath

From different winds

Learns the past

In a different skin

Do not tell him

In what native tongue

His song would best

Be sung

Do not tell me

Who I am

The Case For Pramila Jayapal

Editor’s Note: We invited both candidates running for State Senator in the 37th District  to make a case for themselves as to why they deserve your vote on or before Election Day (November 4th).

by Pramila Jayapal

We are reaching the final stretch in my campaign to represent you in Olympia as your next State Senator. We have knocked on over 24,000 doors and called over 10,000 voters.  We have had over 250 people volunteer their time, including dozens of young people and others who have never been involved in democracy before. We have garnered almost every single endorsement from a broad coalition of groups, from labor unions to environmental groups to women’s groups to community leaders and elected officials. There is only one thing left to do: vote!  Today, I want to ask you for your trust and your vote so I can represent you as the next State Senator for this beautiful 37th district.

I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life fighting for justice on numerous fronts.  I tutored African-American kids in the Cabrini Green Housing Project in Chicago back when I was getting my MBA, and learned first hand the challenges and critical nature of education, all the way from early learning to higher education.  I worked in economic development in the south side of Chicago, understanding how to revitalize urban neighborhoods and bring in jobs.  I worked on public health issues across Africa, Latin America and Asia, helping people to address the basic health of their communities.  And here in Washington, I founded and served as Executive Director for OneAmerica, now the largest immigrant advocacy organization in the state, where we registered over 25,000 new immigrant citizens to vote and helped push for federal immigration reform and the state Dream Act.

These diverse work experiences have convinced me that our agenda is broad and specific, together. And to achieve it, we need people to engage in democracy, not just for an election but for the long-term.  I’ve lived in this district for 19 years and I believe we have so much to teach the rest of the state with our diversity, resilience and creativity. I’ve said from the beginning that this campaign is not just about electing me—it’s about electing us.  I’m going to fight for you in Olympia, but I also want your participation to make this the most vibrant democracy we can make it in the 37th.  Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, black, brown or white—whoever you are, there is a place for your voice in the 37th.

I’ve heard from talking to you that too many people feel like we do need government but for too long, the system has been rigged against working families. As your next State Senator, I will work to level the playing field and help build an economy that works for everyone. This means everyone pays their fair share, women get paid equally to men, we cut outdated tax loopholes and reform our tax structure so we can pay for education, health, transportation and other supports.  Our state is slowly crawling its way back from the great recession, but too few people are sharing in the progress.  It’s time that we make sure working families, not just the wealthiest few, share in hope and opportunity.

I also know how critical public health and safety are in the district. As a leader on Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s taskforces on the minimum wage increase and Police Chief search, I have worked to responsibly foster environments that are good for small businesses, workers and public safety. Both task force objectives had the potential for divisiveness, but we brought diverse groups together and created the best solutions. I’ve built my career on helping to reach principled compromises on the toughest of issues—from immigration to racial profiling to building alternatives to incarceration—and I do not shy away from fighting to get the best outcome.

The 37th district is also crying out for jobs and economic development. As your Senator, I’ll use my relationships to build partnerships for opportunity, work with business, labor and government to ensure that we address affordable housing, incentivize employers to come to the district with good jobs, and provide assistance to small businesses to grow.

And – most importantly – as a mother of a public school student, I believe our greatest responsibility is the legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren. We have a court-mandated and constitutional responsibility to fully fund our schools—but not through cutting the other supports that kids need.  We have to reduce class sizes, pay teachers adequately for the important work that they do and support programs for early childhood education, all the while making sure we continue to invest in healthcare, support and safety net services.  That means raising new revenue, and I intend to make sure we do that.

I am so grateful to each one of you who have offered me support over the years for my activism and my campaign. I know that, together, we can make change happen in Olympia!  Please vote for me—and join our movement for justice and opportunity!