‘Skin color should not be deciding factor of success’

Image by Rebecca Pelvin

“Skin color should not be deciding factor of success” Originally Posted by Rebecca Plevin – Vida en el Valle (Published Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 11:38AM)

[box_light]Editor’s note: We’re proud to repost this story about Miguel Bibanco and the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. Miguel is a member of our cohort of youth reporters, and his work, along with many others, to bring attention to the needs of boys and men of color is commendable. After reading this story, we hope you’ll agree. View Miguel’s work with The kNOw here.[/box_light]


[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ccording to the statistics, Miguel Bibanco should not have been testifying in the state Capitol last Wednesday afternoon before the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color in California.

According to the statistics, Bibanco — who was born in México and raised by a single mother in Fresno and other agricultural communities across the San Joaquín Valley — should have struggled to make it through high school. According to the numbers, he could have easily landed in a juvenile facility or prison.

Instead, 17-year-old Bibanco, who will be a senior at Edison High School, was one of a handful of youth who provided powerful commentary during the final hearing of the committee, which was formed to address serious disparities in health, wealth, education and opportunities among the state’s young men of color.

[pullquote_right]”It is a health issue, in our opinion, when we in California graduate more young men and boys of color with GEDs in state prison, than we do in our public high schools,” [/pullquote_right]

He spoke a few minutes after Sarah Reyes, Central Valley program manager for The California Endowment, framed the disparities for the committee: “It is a health issue, in our opinion, when we in California graduate more young men and boys of color with GEDs in state prison, than we do in our public high schools,” she said.

“In our opinion, it is a health issue in California, and for California, when we incarcerate more young men and boys of color than we enroll in our institutions of higher learning.”

For Bibanco, the three-minute testimony was likely the climax of an exciting day dedicated to raising the voice of the state’s underserved young men of color.

“We still need more help for our young men and boys of color,” Bibanco said at the conclusion of his testimony. “It’s not just us in Fresno that needs this help — the story is the same in places all over California.”

Bibanco didn’t travel to Sacramento to buck the statistics.

He went to the Capitol, he said, to describe the barriers young men of color face in his community — and especially in the schools.

Last Wednesday morning, he and four other young men from Fresno first shared their message with Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Visalia. They were among about 100 young men from across the state making legislative visits, on behalf of the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.

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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