By: Mai Moore, Executive Director, EYEJ

Perhaps we start changing our mindset to who the haves and have not are?

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

I believe we can all agree that we are an incredibly divided nation at the moment.  We are suffering from last week’s awful terrorist events and yet again are dumping all of our pain and problems on our youth.  What are we teaching to our youth, our future?
We have been reminded and shown clearly the truth of evident hatred, and perhaps we’ve been judging the wrong people incorrectly?  Of course, there is good and bad in all areas, all backgrounds, ethnicities, but this country is built on a foundation of oppression for black people.  Remember, before last week, Cleveland had declared racism as a public health crisis.  We could discuss extensively how racism and oppression impacts our youth, whether the epidemic that 100% of Cleveland youth have toxic stress that the EYEJ Youth Council declared in 2018, or the workforce development issues in Cleveland. We can also examine the current decline in college applicants for youth, the lack of internet broadband for our youth where Cleveland is the #1 worst connected big city in the US, COVID, and the fact that suicide is the leading cause of death for young people ages 10-14 in Ohio — then layer with a foundation of oppression that we DO NOT CHANGE.   Cleveland, what more else do we want to hit the charts with?  ALL of this is impacting our youth, and specifically and mostly, our black youth. Aren’t you tired yet?
This is a time of great need for mental health, self-love, self-care, and healing.
EYEJ can not solve this on our own, we understand this, we must partner, collaborate, work together, be open-minded, and listen, but over 900 very diverse persons have pushed us forward. The solutions are HERE, but we must listen, support, and elevate them. We hold the power to MOVE FORWARD in a positive, loving, empathetic, and actionable way.  The choice is ours right at this moment.  The past is the past.  We MUST reject white supremacy and anti-racist activism.  
I’ll tell you why EYEJ is extraordinary, EYEJ knows how to turn anger into positive action.  We focus on mental health and socio-emotional learning as a core foundation to our pathway of empowering young advocates for change to be Change-makers through our YODJ: Youth Online Discussing Justice program.  EYEJ must continue elevating our youth in our EYEJ Youth Council while educating and spreading awareness through the EYEJ Speaks program. To all of our 194 donors so far for their support of the #ConnectingCleveland campaign – THANK YOU.  I appreciate you for supporting and elevating EYEJ but I ask you to STOP white supremacy for ALL of us, for a better community, for our youth. As a community, we must take responsibility and BE THE CHANGE.
Oppression, racist attacks, and hate has been happening my entire life right in front of our faces.  I’m not surprised by what happened.   White people literally proved their privilege last week and some people have the audacity to continue to deny it.  I ask you to look at us as humans, as people, as community members, elevate us and support our important, positive work. – Treyah, EYEJ Youth Council Member
The events that took place Wednesday at the Capitol were jarring, but unfortunately, they were not surprising. While it is important to recognize the events that occurred at the capitol as an example of what EYEJ is fighting against, it is urgent that we trust in the work that we do and the youth that inspires us for they will be the change agents of tomorrow. On that note, It is our responsibility as adults and citizens that act from places of love and compassion to prime our system for this change. I ask my white folks to evaluate their privilege and not allow shame nor guilt from Wednesday to prohibit action for change. – Katie Ross, EYEJ YODJ Program Director
Perhaps we look more clearly at the truth of who the real have nots are.
Thank you,
Mai Moore
Co-Founder, Executive Director to EYEJ: Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice

Keywords: #socialjustice, #youth, #digitaldivide, #equity, #justice, #community, #unitedstates, #Cleveland #EYEJ #ConnectingCleveland #EconomicEmpowerment