Fresno Teens Weigh In On Obama’s Goal To ‘Remake America’

obamaFresno, CA—In his inaugural address, 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, declared “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America.” To accomplish this daunting task involves not only our government but the contribution and voice of all citizens in the nation, especially our young generation. The kNOw youth provide their perspective on this historic occasion and what it means to ‘remake America’.

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My Vision
When I heard the phrase “remaking America”, the first thing that came to mind was a pretty and greener, new America. To me, remaking America means more opportunities for youth to get involved and help their community. I could see me being a big help to the community somehow. In my head, I saw a lot of people coming together to help stop problems in the community, like air pollution or littering. I saw money coming back to help young people get an education. I also saw a lot of youth being independent and getting ready for their careers. I’m not sure how long it will take for my vision to come true, but I know that President Obama is the one who will help start this vision.
-Angelina, 16

Remake Ourselves
As of now, our country is broken and divided. We are in a recession, soon to be depression, and we continue to be in conflict with the Middle East. Yes, America does need to be “remade”. I believe it means that we are so flawed we are in ruins, and even we as people can’t pull ourselves together. As our economy crumbles before us, it is now almost impossible for the “American Dream” to be fulfilled.

I am young, I have a diploma, but it gets harder and harder for me and other youth to get a job. I’m still confused as to how this all happened. In our society, if you don’t have a job, you’re nothing. I don’t want to end up being nothing forever.

America is supposed to be a place where everyone can be “free”, employed, housed and fed. That whole ideal is diminishing more and more each day. In a way, I believe that we’ve made this problem for ourselves, but we have to find ways to fix it and pay for it. We made our bed, now we must lie in it.

I think it’s unfair that we want our new President to fix every problem that our former President and we created. We’re too lazy to do anything. We have grown weak and now expect our government to fix every little problem we have. Whatever happened to us being strong, driven people?

I believe that to remake America, we have to remake ourselves. No matter our President, this country is no good and powerless if we just run away from our problems. I, along with others, have to take responsibility for what we have created for ourselves.
-Jaleesa, 19

Remaking America Means Change
To me, as a youth growing up in today’s society, remaking America means change. Change in our health care system. Change in our education system. Most importantly, and hopefully, change in our economy. Change needs to happen to remake America.

We need to change our health care system so that everyone can have health care. If everyone could have access to health care, then maybe our country would be healthier.

We also need improvements in our education system. For instance, we need to bring back all the “hands-on” classes that were taken away because of budget cuts. We need the wood shop classes, the auto shop classes, the art classes, and others. We also need to stop taking money from our schools. As youth, we are the future of America, and if we aren’t given a good education, with books and a good environment in school, then how can we be the future? How can adults expect to lower drop out rates when they keep taking money from schools?

We also need to fix our economy. As youth, we want to work and gain experience but how can we when many adults are losing their jobs, causing them to fill new jobs that we are trying to get? Jobs are difficult to come by these days, and not only that, it seems like all we do is spend, spend, spend. This recession sucks, and it seems like the expenses just keep piling up.

In order to remake America, we have to change.
-Arena, 16

The America I Love
Remaking America means we are going through a bad time and saying we need to change. In order to change, we need money, and without money, we cannot change much. As a young person, I am the future. But right now, I need work and without that, I can’t help remake America as I want it to be. If that opportunity was open to me, I know I would not be in this place. I had to drop out of school because I couldn’t pay for bills and stay in a safe place to sleep. So yes, we have too many things to change and I hope we can all help remake America into the place I know and love.
-“Omar”, 17

Dusting It Off
“What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man” are the lyrics that run through my head when I think of President Barack Obama. His inaugural speech was powerful, inspirational and full of hope. He recognizes that we as a nation have made mistakes, we have made our share of failures, but he also realizes that it doesn’t mean it’s over for us.

At one point, I felt like people had given up on our country. I thought we were on our way down. But through President Obama’s words, I realized that we must fall first in order to get back up.

President Obama has given me hope, not only as a citizen but also in my personal life. I have failed and I have fallen, but I won’t stay dusty. I have begun dusting off. I went to college for three semesters and I didn’t do well. I fell, but earlier this year, I began the work of getting back up to remake my future. I’m back in school.
-Laqusha, 20

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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