Tell Someone
The time I stood up for myself was when I was in the eighth grade. I was in middle school and there were some students who bugged me everyday. I was ashamed of myself because I couldn’t say anything or do anything back. Every time I walked home, I would think of the situation again and ask myself, “Why couldn’t I do anything?” I would get home and just be sad for myself.

Then I got tired of the same thing happening again, so when those students bugged me again, I stood up for myself. I told them that if they messed with me, I would tell the Principal to suspend them. They got really scared. That’s when I realized that I could say things to people who mess with me and let the Principal know too. I was really happy inside. Ever since that day, they never messed with me again or anyone else.
-Luis, 17


Mom, I Am Trying My Best
There was a time when my mom was going through hard times. She was really upset because my dad was at work and everyone was lying down. This was about Christmas time and my two nieces and nephew were living with us. My mom started yelling about her room being dirty and how my sister and I throw everything in her room. I got up to see what the fuss was about and she started yelling about how she gets no help and that she’s doing all the work.

But while my mom and dad are at work 24/7, I am the one at home watching the kids, cooking dinner, giving them baths, taking them to school, and picking them up. So I was busy all the time. Then she started yelling about how I never have time to stay awake and watch CSI with her, and that I’m lazy, and never do anything. But I’m mad at the fact that she never realizes or appreciates anything I do and that I have a reason for being tired all the time.

I told her that I loved her and that I would help her in any way she wanted me to and that I’m not like my other two older sisters who left, that I was different. But then she got all quiet cause my dad walked in the door and she acted as though I was helping her clean her room.

I love my mom so much but sometimes I wish she could see that I try so hard to make her happy.
-MM, 16


Bad Everywhere
It was nighttime. I was watching TV. My mom and brother were arguing about him getting a job because all he does is lay around the house, play video games and eat. That’s what my mom said. My brother argued back and after a while, he left to go hang out with his friends. My mom was so angry. She started yelling at me. She was saying how she regrets giving birth to all the boys and that we are all the same, lazy and worthless. She said why did she have to give birth to a bunch of devils and monsters.

This made me feel really bad about myself because I knew I was better. I try to do good for my mom. All my life, I’ve been put down my people, by family and friends, so when I hear it from my own mother, it hurts a lot. I feel like I’m worth nothing and no one cares about me. I always have so much negativity and I always feel so bad about myself. I guess that’s just how life is for me, a little good here and there, but all the bad everywhere.
-Yee Leng, 16


Relationship Insecurities
It’s really hard for me to remember the last time I stood up for myself. The only time I ever do is when it has to do with my name, family or close friends. It’s really painful when they are talked about them right in front of me. There have been too many times when I wouldn’t do anything.

Okay, now I remember. So for some odd reason, my boyfriend always thinks I’m cheating on him. When we talk I try to prove to him that I’m not because I’m not. When he has this kind of “stress” he vents to my younger brother and they basically gang up on me. My brother tells me how I don’t see through a guy’s point of view. It really disappoints me because they get insecure about small things.

I always have to stand up to both of them because I’m basically speaking from my point of view. I always tell my brother that it’s okay for a girl to have friends who are guys. Personally I feel more comfortable hanging out with guys because the majority of the time, I hang out with out with my brother and cousins who happen to be guys. I just think it’s unacceptable to think that every guy a girl is talking to, that she’s developing that “more than friends” feeling. I think it’s pathetic how insecure they are about it. I know they care, which is good, but they need to loosen up and stop getting so intense about it. My boyfriend and brother are great guys but it’s that insecurity that builds a barrier, which harms them.

I think it’s always good to stand up for myself because even if they act like they don’t care, I know that it’s somewhere implanted in their minds.
-Gabby, 17


A Demanding Brother
One time I stood up for myself was when I rebelled against my older brother. Ever since I was capable of cooking (age 7), I automatically became a slave girl to my brother. He’s much older than me but way lazy. He would ask me to cook eggs for him everyday and he would only ask me to do it. I was young and didn’t know how to say no. I did everything for him. He made me run to liquor stores to get him soda, clean his room, cut his nails/toenails, and almost everything else. I was his slave for a long time and all I could do was cry and cry, especially when my other siblings made fun of me because I was so obedient to him.

So one day, like after six years of being his maid, I was finally able to say NO! He called me lazy, stupid, fat, no good and other things to put me down. Those words made me very sad because I did so much for him. I was pissed off big time but that was just once. He stopped for a while but ended up asking me again and me being who I am couldn’t say no.

So the cycle started again! So yep! Now I am able to say no more easily but I just usually do it. I hate the fact that I can’t say no and I even hate it more how he can’t see all the things I’ve done for him. Hopefully I will be able to one day really stand up to him and talk to him.
-Angelina, 17


Fighting For Myself
There are many times I’ve stood up for myself. I know everyone has at least 2 or 3 times, maybe more. Different people have abused me. It came to a point where I couldn’t talk about it anymore and I stopped fighting back.

As I grew up my brothers would always start crap with me. They would call me names and throw stuff at me to get me to explode just like a can of soda when it’s been shaken. One day, I was with them, I’m not sure how old I was but I guess I was about ten years old. I couldn’t take anymore of the beating, so for the first time, I fought back and took out everything on them, all the anger and pain they put me through. I yelled at the top of my lungs and got into it with one of them. We fought until my dad walked in and pulled us apart. This was a day I would never forget. This was the day that my mom’s side of me came out, the troublemaker, evil-planning, revenge side.

Another time was when I was going out with this guy. I guess it was “young love.” He and I talked forever on the phone and when we spent time face to face, it was playing video games, socking each other around and just acting like best friends. To make the story short, he was drinking and for a week or so, he drank a lot. I went over to see him and asked him what was up. He went off on me and then as I tried to walk away cause I was pissed off, he grabbed me and pushed me into his room.

He wouldn’t get off me and his sister didn’t do crap (FYI, she hated me). I was afraid to hit him back cause I thought he loved me. But when he got to the point where he made me feel really uncomfortable, I grabbed his beer (it was a glass bottle) and hit him in the head. He jumped off and tried to grab me and hit me. I fought back and for the first time in my life, I got a black eye (and I’ve been in many fights before with guys). That day I fought him and missed him really bad. Also, he got locked up.

Another time I stood up for myself was with my mom. I was in a way…abused. She had anger toward me because I told her I liked girls. I came out of the “closet.” Before I moved out of the house, I stood up for myself and told her how I felt. I told her that I was a lesbian and if she didn’t like it then oh well. I’m still her daughter, and if she has a problem with my future girlfriends, then I won’t see her until she is okay with it. Now when I go over to see her, I go with my girlfriend. Both my mom and dad talk to my girlfriend and actually try to accept her into the family.

As the days pass I know there will be more moments when I will have to stand up and speak up for not only myself but others as well. I’m proud of myself for what I’ve done and for what I will do in the future. I’ve learned that by speaking up, you gain respect.
-Anna, 18


Standing Up For My Education
Today was the first day of college for me. I am now officially a freshman at CSU Fresno. My speech class was not full but I was denied registration for it because I needed the professor’s permission number. So, I did my part and went into the class to ask for it. When I got into the room, there were five other students who wanted to register as well. Unfortunately, the professor told them they have to wait because the class is now full.

I watched the students leave but that didn’t encourage me to go with them. I stayed after class and had a conversation with the professor. I introduced myself and told her how badly I wanted to be in her class. She said that since three other students weren’t there that day, she would add me. I felt proud because not only did I stand up for myself but also I was able to build a relationship with the professor on the first day.
-Dasen, 18


There was a relationship that I was in that was very emotional and hard for me to deal with. This was supposed to be the person I “loved” and who “loved” me back. This made me re-think what love truly meant. Should I have to go through all this just to have the feeling that I was wanted and needed in someone else’s life? I had many nights of crying and spending lonely weekends when he should have been there, not to bring in all the lies that were told.

So there it had to come to the point where I had made myself sick with all the time I went back and believed him. One night, I decided that this was not the life I was going to live. I went over to his house and told him that everything he did really influenced the way I acted. Even though I cried, I knew that I did what I needed to do to move to the next part of my life. Now that I have let that go, I can start new chapters with new people. Now I know that I don’t need him if that’s how I’m going to feel.
-Caprice, 17


Tunnel Vision
Standing up for one’s self or anyone in trouble is an action that I believe consists of instinctive reaction to help someone close to you no matter what, with the help of tunnel vision that adrenaline gives you. Standing up to someone can sometimes be hard, confusing, and sometimes it can give you fear not because of the physical injuries, but maybe because mentally, people don’t want to cause trouble, whether or not they can win a fight.

I have had an experience when I had to stand up to someone who was giving my best friend and I a hard time. The feeling that came over me was that I had to stand up to an adversary for the very first time who I felt crossed the line between rude and an act of violence. I felt I was doing the right thing. I had thought I would get into trouble, but the emotion of fear and anger blocked my consciousness of the consequences, along with my adrenaline.

I felt like I had tunnel vision, and I was going to put an end to this person’s rein of intimidation on everyone and give him a taste of what it feels like to have someone ready to confront him and not back down, until he stopped aggravating my friend and I. I would say that if more people stood up for themselves in a positive way, fear or intimidation would be more of a noun than an emotion.
-Miguel, 17


Love’s Last Stand
A time when I recall standing up for myself was my first serious relationship in high school. It was during my freshman year. I was in a relationship with a guy who I had a crush on during middle school. I thought I would be the happiest girl because I was finally with the person I wanted to be with for about a year. It all seemed to be okay until about the fourth month in our relationship. He started to become more controlling always asking me where I was and who I was with. For me, I just thought it was a phase that he was going through but no it eventually worsened as time progressed.

Eventually he started to approve which friends I could hang out with and which ones I couldn’t. After a few months, there were only a handful of friends that I was allowed to see. I tried to visit my other friends once in a while but as soon as he heard, I would get hit or threatened. This continued for about four or five months until I heard that he was cheating on me. That was the last stand. I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally came to the conclusion that I really shouldn’t be treated that way anymore so I left him. Even though it was very hard for me to do because I cared about him so much, I eventually had to get over it. I was so happy in the end because I was able to stand up for myself.
-“Violet”, 17


Please Don’t Yell
If I think about a time I had to stand up for myself, it was with my mom. She yells and cusses at me for the smallest things. It confuses me. I recently just got into the mentality that if someone is yelling at me, I’m not gonna yell back. In fact, I stopped yelling altogether unless someone is far away, or I’m at Six Flags. But my mom would yell and scream at me and I would ask her why she is yelling if we are in the same room. I believe that I am being the bigger person. I’m gonna be the type of person who never yells at his kids. My kids will be able to take me seriously if I talk in a normal voice, and I’m not gonna need to scream or fuss.
-Kevis, 18


Taking My Stand
There have been countless times where I had to stand up for myself because of my size or skin color. I have to try extra hard to look feminine. When I transferred to my second high school, the harassment didn’t stop. A (very) unattractive boy would always make rude and cruel comments about how I looked. He would say things like, “Eww, you’re so f***king fat” or “I’ve never seen you with a guy. I bet you’re a dyke.” As I mentioned, I’ve been bombarded with comments like that since I was very young.

Everyone has a limit though and I was going to reach mine very soon. I would either break down and burst into tears or end up hurting someone very badly. I was both depressed and livid. I often took the feelings out on myself. Quite frankly, I had had enough of that too.

One day, I was minding my own business and that ugly guy came along. He was by himself. I guess he didn’t feel like impressing his friends that day. He walked up to me and said, “Ugh, you look like dude.”

That was the day I reached my limit. So much was going through my mind at that moment, I hardly had the capacity to pick and choose what to do. My body wanted me to play it safe and walk away, so I started to. But suddenly, my mind went into full-blown defense mode. My walking stopped and I said to him, “What did you say?”

The guy seemed taken aback by my challenge. He gladly repeated, “I said you look like a dude.”

Quickly, I shot back, “…And I’ll beat your *ss like a dude too…”

The ugly guy got angry and said, “Well, you’re a b**tch.”

The guy gave me an angry face and stomped off. From that moment, adrenaline was rushing through me. In a way, I felt good for finally getting that out, but at the same time, I felt awful about the confrontation. I learned that I’m going to have to fight for myself for the rest of my life no matter what the case.

If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.
-Jaleesa, 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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