By: Julio Magana,Youth Developer
I feel really fortunate that I was able to fast on the first day and reflect upon the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. I felt the serenity that comes from knowing that what we were doing and about to do was something Dr. King himself would have believed in. Though people often try to define Dr. King as passive, the truth is that he dedicated his life to direct action against injustice. In our case, a lack of regard for life (and the resulting prevalence of violence) is unjust for our students and their families. I understand this campaign (the fast and the pledge) as our direct action. So I feel great knowing that I really did my best to improve the lives of not just my students but our city as a whole.
I was honored by the fact that Ana Lopez, a student from the College for California campaign, chose to fast with me to ensure that both efforts are kept in our constant prayers. The fact that my BRWN BFLO brother Lukumi “Giant” Soriano, a counselor at Oakland High was also fasting in solidarity with me further solidified our connection as fellow artists and educators dedicated to radical action for social justice. This here is an example of how this fast has strengthened our bond and commitment to our music and its relationship to our community.
I was unable to really nourish myself before starting the fast and quickly grew hungry. Thankfully, our efforts to improve our campus and kickoff our larger campaign engaged all of my attention. Efforts to get the word out kept my mind off my hunger throughout the afternoon and into the night.
“I understand that I am an important part of a learning environment” was the statement that resonated most with me as I was doing online outreach to my colleagues and reflecting on the day. I couldn’t stop hearing the condescending tone of one reporters’ redundant question “I don’t get it, so why a fast?” It is my profound belief that by participating in this Fast and collecting signatures on our Peace-Builders Pledge, we give our own students a way to take serious action that helps change the cynical mindset of the average Oakland resident. I sincerely believe that everyone in Oakland can realize their responsibility to help create an environment where learning is a priority.
I believe our Season of Peace-Building campaign is a strong reminder that Oakland citizens have a history of providing for themselves when institutions cannot. The Black Panthers served warm breakfast to children. Since Police do not inspire hope for a more peaceful city, I believe the selfless acts of BAM/RAW youth can be much more effective. By helping even one student, parent or community member understand that students DO care about their education and trust their neighbors to create positive change, I believe we are achieving our goal of unifying our community to build peace. It is this hopeful understanding and this ownership over the learning of other students that can change the popular opinion that Oakland students are careless and ruthless and therefore unworthy of concern. Though we cannot trust politicians to provide our schools with sufficient resources we can still cultivate one invaluable resource, our faith in each other.
It wasn’t until after I fasted that I found all these answers to that reporters’ one question! Upon breaking my fast in a circle surrounded by under-informed students and staff I realized two other important facts: 1) we must do better to inform our community and constantly refocus our outreach for maximum effect and 2) real change is a long process.
Edited by: Yuvitza Rivera, Sophomore