FREE Conversation Toolkit To Help Keep Young People Safe

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It’s not easy to talk with youth about sensitive topics such as cybersafety, healthy relationships, and bullying. To help facilitate these discussions, the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC), in partnership with the youth leadership group, P.O.P! (The Power of Prevention), created the site, “100 Conversations.”

The goal of “100 Conversations” is to increase safety and reduce sexual violence for all youth, and in particular for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. The site’s “Topics” section has links to 100 conversations categorized into 10 major topics including “Boundaries & Values,” “Consent & Laws,” and “Bystanders & Resources.”

The toolkit also includes other supportive information such as steps to take before you talk with a young person, and how to take a risk-reduction approach to digital safety. Here we highlight some of the site’s sections:

Values. If organizations want to make sure that “100 Conversations” is in line with their mission and values, this section is the right place to start. From personal responsibility to a youth-centered approach, the authors make it clear that the goal of the project is to empower young people to take care of themselves through the use of a powerful prevention strategy — communication.

Before you talk. Discussing sensitive topics with youth can be awkward. The toolkit provides tips on preparing for and initiating these conversations. With a focus on bringing intention to dialogue and  being committed to practicing skills, the authors provide questions readers can ask themselves as part of their preparation, such as “What are your values around sharing information about sex and safety?”

Topics. No matter how shy someone is, the step-by-step conversation guidance in the “Topics” section will help build readers’ confidence. In Conversation #28: “Relationships: Wants & Needs Changing,” for example, the authors provide sets of questions to use in different stages of the conversation. The three stages are categorized with the subheadings, “Start here,” “Continue,” and “Keep talking.” For this topic, one of the suggested questions in the ‘Continue’ set is, “How might school difficulties affect your needs in a relationship?”

Where to focus. In this section, KCSARC and P.O.P! clarify how their unique approach to promoting safety online through risk reduction is somewhat different than the standard approach. Using the research of David Finkelhor to support their suggestions, the authors compare standard cybersafety mantras such as, “Sharing your real name is dangerous,” to more practical and relevant tips such as, “Talking online about sex with people you don’t know in real life can increase your risk.”

The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center encourages organizations to contact their staff with questions about how to use “100 Conversations” or any of their other resources. Contact KCSARC’s 24-Hour Resource Line at 888-99-VOICE

Activism, Social Justice and a “Dear Future Leader” Letter

 

Have you ever noticed a student at your school and thought, ‘This young person is going to change the world!’? Consider encouraging their activism with a personalized letter and give it directly to any of your developing change makers, giving your vote of confidence and support. A personalized letter can look like the sample below.[Feel free to share, copy and print this one, with your own personal touch, if you’d like.]

Dear Future Leader,

Changing the world isn’t just about changing people’s ideas when it comes to race, gender and sexual orientation. It is about changing the way we approach bias and how we educate ourselves and others. Starting a club or group at school can be a great way to empower yourself and your peers, educate the school community and address identity-based bullying. I’ve noticed that you care about social issues, and I think you’ve got what it takes to be an effective leader.

By launching a gay-straight alliance, an anti-racism club or any kind of social justice group you might choose, you can spur productive conversations between students, teachers and administrators. This type of dialogue supports an environment where everyone is comfortable and free to learn—and it’s necessary for making real change.

Are you up for the challenge? Here are some suggestions for getting started.

  1. Get a teacher to sponsor the group. It is important to gain the help and support of a teacher or other faculty member in starting your group. A supportive teacher can help to bridge the gap between generations and cut through bureaucratic red tape. Additionally, this teacher can help get other educators and community members involved. A few supportive adults can access resources younger people may not be able to access alone. The key is fostering a forum for youth to create change; find an adult who is willing to nurture, not lead.
  2. Call a meeting. The next step will be to set up your first meeting. Main questions are: What is a meeting? What will we talk about at the meeting?Plan to make your initial meeting something more than another boring after-school gathering. Many times, groups will get together for a first meeting and find themselves staring into each other’s faces with nothing to talk about. Plan a mixer with refreshments, music and movies. Make it interesting.

    Your first meeting should be very casual and consist of the founding members establishing priorities. This initial meeting will really serve as a preview for the first large-group meeting, which will be open to everyone who’s interested and wants to get involved.

    Think of ways to expand your group. How can you creatively launch the new group and recruit members from the larger school community?

  3. Plan activities to help people get to know each other. Start thinking of ideas for breaking the ice at the first large-group meeting. Remember, if people don’t have fun and feel comfortable, they will not come to the next meeting. What will you talk about? How will you make sure everyone feels welcome?Think simply. Provide a clear impression of what types of issues the group plans to address. And remember to keep things light.

    Plan a game that gets everyone acquainted; introduce yourselves to each other and share why you felt it was important to get involved.

  4. Set goals for your group. Once you have started your group and have a few core people attending your meetings, the group should set goals.These goals should include everything from fundraising to attracting new members. Identify key issues not only in your school, but also in your community. Be creative and realistic. Additionally, your group should look at ways to use its influence as a school-sanctioned organization.

    Think about sponsoring events and speakers. If you set a goal to have a great speaker talk to the whole school about an issue like race, history, gender or culture, ask the speaker to address interested members of the community that evening, too. Use the school or a local events center to host the event.

    Try to include self-education in your group meetings. Create a reading list. Strive to keep learning about new issues.

  5. Schedule events that are fun. Plan activities that entice people to come—not because they are necessarily interested in the cause, but because the events sound fun. Consider events like concerts, dances and presentations. Imagine an after-school event where the local high school punk band plays a show with the local hip-hop act and the whole thing is hosted by a DJ. That would be cool, right?

    Introduce the group’s goals and ideas at the events. Use informational tables and fliers or an art display created by students and inspired by a recent event, a historical event or even a single word representing a theme, like unity or upstander.

People who are interested in activism and justice sometimes forget that not everyone is as passionate about their ideas as we are. Many people who are “on our side,” or could be on our side, might be uncomfortable about activism or standing up for a cause. Be creative, understanding and gentle in your approach, and be sure to include celebration and socialization as part of the group’s activism and organizing.

This may feel like a lot, but just remember: Young people CAN change the world, and you have adults around you who are willing to help. Thank you for your courage. I can’t wait to hear your ideas.

Sincerely,

XXXXXX

Encourage organized student activism on social justice and humanitarian causes, educate your change makers, culture creators, and support your future leaders’ efforts to prepare the world for global peace, and respectful engagement with diversity. Write a “Dear Future Leader” letter!

Are You On The Front Lines?

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Are you on the front lines with the fighters or behind the curtains? Can you interpret pertinent signs that now’s the time, more than ever before to stand firm on what we know is certain. Amber alerting every two days because we stop searching. Where I was raised you were praised if you could stop working. Sell some dope. We stand back and watch the world through a scope. Our world views molded through media. The merchants. Trayvon Martin martyred. We started mock marching. Still talking. We said nothing when Darius Simmons was murdered in Milwaukee. Curses, knee high. Blood feuds, and homeless pleas. While we try to appease the corporate entities schemes and make them our own. Do you see the juvenile in the streets and speed by? Insecure in your own home cause you don’t pray enough. So you arm yourself with chrome and eat a lot. Shield your eyes from our reality to see it not. The innocent victims of war weapons called collateral casualties. But we approve the wicked movements through the ballot box. Plus our own brothers and sisters are found slain when the cannons stop. And what happens when a man wants everybody in a college campus shot? We do nothing how can it stop.
Are YOU willing to stand in the midst of trouble during troubling times?

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Didn’t You Know That Hyphenated-Americans ARE Immigrants Too?

The New York Times newspaper publishes a series of articles called, “Race/Related”, and the latest article from the series discusses the hyphenated American.  It is so appropriate and timely that I, just yesterday, posted an image of recent protests underscored by a comment  that referenced hyphenated Americans in this nation of immigrants.

The latest policy of the new Trump administration is currently demanding the deportation of illegal immigrants. Specifically, the executive order calls for the immediate removal of Mexicans who are in this country without the proper documentation. By the way, aren’t they still Americans if they have lived and worked in this country for many years? Sidebar-I wonder whether, if this were 1620, would those pilgrim immigrants bring in Africans to help build the country’s infrastructure!

Before he became our President, Trump campaigned under that platform, along with building this GIANT WALL.  An inappropriate response to the narrowly perceived global political climate is the banning of immigration by  Arab/Muslim ex-pats, refugees, and individuals from Mexico for fear of allowing those damned terrorists, rapists and drug dealers to cross our borders.

Terrorists? Most acts of ‘terrorism’ committed on our soil are at the hands of home-grown, hyphenated Americans.

Rape and drug dealing? Are they exclusively Mexican crimes?[rhetorical]

I don’t want to sound absurd, but this country has become more and more ‘brown’ and people of color are increasing becoming the majority. Hence, the term minority in a few years, will be irrelevant. And who gets to decide which groups are majority or ‘dominant’ culture and minority?
 

Recently,  ‘A Day Without Immigrants’, was a demonstration of solidarity in protest against this new policy and an illustration of how dependent certain industries are on an immigrant workforce in this country. Funny it is, that this country which was  founded by immigrants, once represented an open-door to opportunity for other immigrants who hailed from any place on the globe. Now that the latest waves of people coming into the country are identified as ‘undesirable’, of deeper and brown hues, and non-Christian worshippers, they are not welcome here.

This is like a group of kids who stole this tree-house, stole people to build upon and decorate it. The doors were always open to newcomers, but once they feel the house is just fine, and no more help is needed, they then want to put a wall around it and keep people out. Certain people!

Immigrants who may have been here for a few generations, none any longer than African-Americans, now assign labels to themselves. They become hyphenated Americans: Italian, Irish, etc…

The truly non-immigrant groups have been squeezed
into tiny pockets of a vast nation once their own alone, also happen to be ‘brown’ people of color. The minority became the majority, and it is being reversed- the meek shall inherit the earth.

Am I being paranoid, or does this speak to a much larger issue? Also, do we not know that the agricultural/food industry relies heavily on immigrant workers? Who is going to harvest the fruit-grapes for wine, lettuce for salads, oranges for juice, and so forth? Don’t we know that when we go out to eat, and order salads, that there would be a major shortage if there are no more ‘illegal’ immigrants working outside our view? Just ‘food for thought’!

RACE/RELATED

In his 1903 book, “Souls of Black Folk,” W.E.B. Du Bois states that the problem of the 20th century is “the problem of the color line.” Seventeen years into the next century and after eight years of a black man serving as president of the United States, this insight is still relevant. The difference today is that the color line manifests itself in a variety of ways, often more insidious than those of Du Bois’s era.
At its best, the United States today resembles the global ideal of a multicultural, inclusive and equitable society. At its worst, it represents a hypocritical empire steeped in white supremacy.

Hyphen-Nation — the video, art and interactive project we published this week as part of our Race/Related collaboration with the documentary showcase POV — explores this duality.
[WATCH: Hyphen Nation: Exploring What it Means to be American]
We asked nine Americans of varied backgrounds a series of questions centered around the idea of when they have felt most and least American. What we ended up with are interviews and artwork (by Josh Cochran) that examines and scrutinizes what an American citizen looks like, where they come from, and who gets to determine who belongs. (A selection of them, with excerpts, are below.)

When it comes to many of our country’s greatest achievements and contributions to human progress, we see people of different races/ethnicities, religions, genders and cultural perspectives playing a role. Non-white people have contributed in large numbers to what has become the United States throughout its history, from serving in our military in every major war and conflict, to major contributions to science, art, and the overall cultural fabric of our society.

And yet, for so many people, American identity still seems intrinsically tied to the idea of “whiteness.” Americans who do not clearly fit that description often feel as though they are not embraced as fully American, simply because of what they look like.
We’ve seen a resurgence of this recently both explicitly and implicitly, through the presidential campaign and into the first few weeks of the Trump era. But Hyphen Nation aims to reveal the more personal side of what that means.

The people in these videos are all United States citizens, who grew up in areas as wide ranging as Denver, St. Petersburg, Fla., Atlanta, Nashville, and Washington. They discuss their experiences of feeling connected to their country and of feeling pushed away. Many of them discuss how their American identity is perceived outside of the U.S. as well.

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Armando

“Our American society has forced the prefix…It has forced the hyphen in response to modern geopolitical borders and a concept of whiteness being the norm in America.”
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Amanda

 “The question I most often get is ‘where are you from?’ It’s never, ‘I’m curious.’ It’s ‘I demand to know, where are you from, because you most definitely are not from here.’ ”
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Mallika

“I don’t like the term Indian-American. I don’t like the hyphenations because I am American.”
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Ayman

“I think America was an idea sold to different groups of people and rebranded multiple times.”
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Michaela

 “Why would I want to be white, when my ancestors came through immeasurable fear and terror to be here. You tried everything to destroy them. And they didn’t. They didn’t. They couldn’t. You can’t crush them.”

What do you think  about this Hyphen-Nation? Leave your thoughts  here. It may be Race/Related!