by TQ Vu
(This piece was originally published as part of the Duwamish Valley Youth Storytelling Project and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
As part of the inaugural Duwamish Valley Youth Storytelling Project, three local high school students, Jazmine Petty-Yeates, TQ Vu, and Tommy Mac, had the opportunity to participate in a workshop and develop stories connected to community while also exploring the complexities of their intersecting identities. The workshop was facilitated by journalists and community storytellers Bunthay Cheam and Jenna Hanchard to increase access to journalism for BIPOC and employ youth. The project was in collaboration with the Port Community Action Team and sponsored by the Port of Seattle. The workshop helped students become better listeners and storycatchers to continue passing down and honoring the stories of our communities using their medium of choice.
Words From TQ
For the 16 years I’ve been breathing, my dad has always been there for me. Maybe not exactly when he went into the house right before I fell off my bike and got the worst cut I could’ve imagined. But when I struggled with telling the time or having trouble with my brand new iPad not connecting to the Wi-Fi, my dad was always to the rescue. Bringing me home extra Safeway donuts or buying an extra hamburger when he stopped by Dick’s for lunch. My dad and I have always had a good relationship. But that’s because good father-daughter relationships only require a good father and not necessarily a good daughter. Because I thought I knew everything about my dad, from how he chewed his food to how long it took him to shower or drive to places. It wasn’t like he didn’t tell me stories, either. In fact, I heard many of them from his childhood. How he once chased a chicken onto a roof or how he played soccer barefoot in the streets.
What I never considered was how arduous his experiences might have been. The experiences that have put me where I am now. Although I try to not take everything I have for granted, hearing about his journey here made me realize that I continue to anyway. Because the way he described these experiences made me sound like I was being a complete crybaby over a boy not responding to one of my texts. Because when I finally processed the stories themselves, I could barely imagine myself in his shoes and persevering through these experiences. Because when I stepped into a new building, the only thing you could possibly compare to my dad stepping into a new country was the feeling we both felt.
Continue reading OPINION: Unsteadiness
by Susan Fried
About a half dozen barbers volunteered their services last weekend so people could get free haircuts at Rainier Beach Community Center plaza. In addition to the cuts, there was food, entertainment, and free COVID-19 vaccines. The event was held in partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods and hosted by Fathers and Sons Together (FAST) — a youth development organization that aims to nurture the relationships between fathers and sons. It also featured three panel discussions around significant issues affecting the community, including one on health and wellness — in particular how they relate to COVID-19 — one on the recent surge in gun violence, and a third to discuss ways to help youth and create positive change in the community.
Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: Fathers and Sons Together Barbershop Event Encourages Hope
by Joy Pearl
(This essay is in response to a prompt asking young people about their feelings living through the COVID-19 pandemic and reckoning with white supremacy after the January 6, 2021 insurrection.)
As I look around at the faces of people who have come into my life recently or a long time ago, I feel at peace. When I think of people who have been there for me at different times in my life — times when I felt like the world was caving in and times I felt on top of the world — I feel supported. My grandma who calls me Sunshine, my godmother Ruth who is the embodiment of tough love, my parents who make sure that I know they are proud of me, my zeiza (grandpa) who always believed in me, and many others. As I look at the room full of people here with me as I write, I love and I am loved. In a world full of hate, I choose love.
I believe in love.
Continue reading OPINION: I Believe in Love
by Ari Robin McKenna
When Drew Campbell was in middle school in the Renton Highlands, he’d often watch recess alone from inside the classroom while all his peers played outside. After they lined up and came back into the building, he was allowed out into the schoolyard for his turn, wondering, “Would I ever be able to interact with the regular kids?” In the large, mostly empty classroom where he spent the rest of the day with two other students — each with their own Individual Education Plan (IEP) — posters mostly covered the windows to shield the three of them from being made fun of. When learning, they were separated by cubicle walls — not unlike those recently used to deter COVID-19 transmission — only they weren’t transparent. The isolation that Campbell felt, and the bullying he faced daily from peers after being excluded from their midst by adults after an ADHD diagnosis, is something he will never forget.
Yet born from this traumatic three years of his life was a desire to hone in on what students with a lot of energy — especially Black boys — need to be able to learn with enthusiasm and purpose. Though the public education system may have tried to fail Campbell, he learned from his experience a critique containing answers to questions now being asked publicly: How can we end the school-to-prison pipeline? How can we stop failing to engage Black boys? How can we make public education more inclusive?
Continue reading Drew Campbell Talks Shine Kinesthetic: Learning by Doing, Exploring, Discovering
by Ronnie Estoque
For the last 20 years, Rainier Scholars has partnered with various organizations, school districts, individual schools, and businesses to academically support underrepresented students in the greater Seattle area. Earlier this month, Rainier Scholars announced that they would be partnering with Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) to further the district’s mission of supporting more students, especially those from multigenerational African American families. Their first Tacoma cohort will be recruited in the beginning of fall of 2021, with programming launching in the summer of 2022.
Continue reading Rainier Scholars Announces New Partnership With Tacoma Public Schools
by Bunthay Cheam
A collection of proposed legislation working its way through the Washington State Legislature could substantially change sentencing of young offenders, as well as revise sentences for those currently incarcerated.
Continue reading Legislation Looks To Change Youth Sentencing, Offer Retroactive Relief
by Mark Van Streefkerk
At a time when social and racial inequities require urgent action, many are asking the question — how can we make a more just world? For the last 20 years, Rainier Scholars has offered answers to that question through education, providing academic access and leadership development to BIPOC and underserved youth. Now with newly-selected Executive Director Rafael del Castillo, Rainier Scholars looks to expand their impact with a greater emphasis on racial justice.
Continue reading Rainier Scholars Welcomes New Executive Director Rafael del Castillo
by Alexis Mburu
Three years ago, if you were to ask me what the Black Lives Matter movement meant to me, I’d have given what I would now consider a lackluster answer. This is because three years ago, I was a seventh grader with a limited grasp on my identity and the world around me. Now, Black Lives Matter is a movement that holds so much weight it’s hard to imagine a time when I was so inattentive.
The 2017/2018 school year was the first year I participated in a Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action at my school in Tukwila, Washington, and it felt like a whisper. There was no energy or enthusiasm by the teachers I had because they were just doing what they were told, going through the motions with slides that were provided by anti-racist teachers with real passion, ones who educated and liberated their students all year round — teachers who saw the necessity in decolonizing the education system one step at a time, and, for the most part, knew how to. I was lucky enough to know such a teacher: Erin Herda, who has been teaching ethnic studies for years, despite endless push-back.
Unfortunately, the experience of only getting to have the necessary conversations, read the important books, and be taught true history if you have the right teachers is all too common.
Continue reading Why We Need Black Lives Matter at School in 2021 — and How to Get Involved