Our Voices

Youth Blog: Amir

My Name is Amir Khadar.

I’m a multidisciplinary activist artist, with an addiction to bubble tea and Shea butter.
And I work as a youth organizer at Voices for Racial Justice.

I got involved with Voices in summer 2015 as a participant in their Youth Cultural Organizing Institute and it was an epicenter for change in my life. The training is focused around giving youth of color the space to understand community organizing, and empower black & brown youth. At that point in my life I was very confused about my identity and unclear about my potential. As a queer black person, I felt disgustingly excluded by all communities. I was constantly struggling to navigate a white supremacist/heteronormative society while maintaining my individuality, and I felt lost. A close friend sent me the application for the training through Facebook and I did it because I needed a summer activity so my parents would stop nagging me.

This training was the first time I was in a space that was exclusively intended for radical youth of color. I initially expected to be tokenized or alienated because my past experiences in majorly of color spaces were toxic (because they were orchestrated by white people). I was almost taken aback when people in the space recognized me as my authentic self. Because of the space, I felt more connected and like I could really grow at Voices.

In the training I was exposed to intersectionality through a workshop session. I began to define my identity, and that was my first step in solidifying my self-image. I was also exposed to writing and poetry through more workshops. Since then poetry and spoken word have shaped how I see the world. My whole life I always had a passion for art and creation, but the way white supremacy is set up, I believed everything I made was inadequate. Through voices I really understood the nature of white supremacy, and I began to deconstruct it in my life to find my goals. I am currently going to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art, in Baltimore, MD for the 2017-2018 schoolyear, and the validation that Voices gifted me gave me the courage to identify as an artist, and pursue my passion.

Now I work with Voices as a youth organizer, with 2 other incredible youth of color, and Gabriella Deal-Marquez, the youth organizing director at Voices. We have a collective interest in healing justice, and work to create events and spaces for exchange centered on healing practice for and with youth of color. As a part of my role at Voices I will be sharing my perspective by blogging twice a month about something that I feel is meaningful.

I am excited to share my creations with you all!

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Sharing Our Immigration Stories

Together as a staff and with the support of our leadership, Voices for Racial Justice has decided to close our offices next Monday, May 1st, in solidarity with our brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors fighting for immigration justice.

Immigration is not an abstract issue in our office. Many of us are either immigrants, refugees or the children of them. Our stories are complicated and different, just like the stories of the immigrants and refugees in our community.

Every day this week we will be telling these stories, and sharing parts of ourselves and our work with you to help you understand that while we will be closed May 1st, we will still be working, as we always are, to fight for justice, reform and respect of the immigrants and refugees that make our communities great.


My first language was Thai, simply the result of absorbing what I heard at home as the first child of Thai immigrants in Omaha, Nebraska. The world I lived in then as a toddler was small and safe and full of language. But then school became necessary and the teacher let my parents know that I really did not speak English. So the world grew larger, but a little less secure. Although I have lost my first language, I have not forgotten it. Still, listening to my family talk, I understand. I have held on and kept at least an ear and maybe more of myself in both worlds. This being in both worlds is what so many immigrant families do, and as we call on our government to honor the dignity of all immigrants, I am reminded of the rich language and culture, along with grace and beauty that immigrants bring to our communities. This poem dwells on the realization of language and understanding that came to me when visiting my family in Chiang Mai.

– Vina Kay

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Salty Sweet

We squeezed around the table –

aunties, uncles, cousins, all –

perched on edges of chairs,

stools, some sharing, together

in the dining room above Aunty’s

shop and the busy market.

Food purchased from the market –

sticky rice, grilled pork, steamed

greens, sweet mangoes –

filled our plates. The talk blurred

by, Thai and English and laughter.

Words ran through my fingers

as I ate, but then, all at once,

something caught. Meaning

clung on, a word, and then another,

and whole phrases, and even

the back and forth. Language

washed over me and I remembered.

I remembered that I knew this

world, that I knew both. One

held me so firmly that I

thought and dreamt its

language. But the other

refused to let go, pulling

me under the currents of

language and smell and tastes –

salty sweet salty sweet –

so that I could not easily come

out. I was amphibious, able to

live in both air and water,

and needing both.

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Change the Name!

Join us Voices and Parks & Power at the MPRB meeting April 19th and demand park commissioners vote YES on recommendations to change the name!

On April 19th the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will vote on the recommendations made by the Harriett/Calhoun Master Plan Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to support the full removal of John C. Calhoun’s name from our beautiful lake and to restore the Dakota name Bde Maka Ska..

This is the highest priority recommendation made by the CAC, amongst other recommendations related to trails, etc. Although the CAC already voted to support the change (pictured above) and despite an outpouring of public support, MPRB commissioners are still saying they will not support the name change.

We need everyone to contact their commissioners, then show up and let the MPRB know we will not honor White Supremacists, champions of Slavery and Genociders like South Carolinian John C Calhoun in Minneapolis. Its time for Truth Telling and for public officials to take a stand for Racial Justice, please join us on Wednesday, April 19th and make your voice heard

See the Facebook event here.

Click here to find out which district you live in.

Click here to contact your park board member.

 

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