Friday, February 22, 2013

WLP Scholar Karly Jeter: Passion for Medicine

Women’s Leadership Project student and Gardena High School senior Karly Jeter recently won a prestigious Posse Foundation Scholarship to attend the Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the fall as a pre-med student. She is a cancer survivor, and her experiences have inspired her to be an oncologist. Although she is passionate about science and medicine, Karly is typically only one of two or three black students in her Advanced Placement classes at Gardena. Reflecting back on her junior year, she recounted when her AP English teacher excluded her from a list of students (all Asian and Latino) he predicted would pass the mock AP exam. When she was one of the few who passed he accused her of cheating. In her chemistry class she and other African American students were routinely criticized by their teacher as having no other ambition in life besides playing sports. What are your career and college ambitions? I’m excited about going to a small campus and having small classes. I feel that I’ll be able to talk to professors more easily. I’m looking forward to studying abroad. I want to go to Korea or Japan. I took Japanese for two years. I don’t believe that Gardena has prepared me to go to college. Going into a medical program I’m expected to already know Calculus and Physics. Although GHS has these courses the teachers were mediocre. It will be complicated for me. Most of the students in my Posse are of color so they have similar experiences. How has being in WLP shaped your perspective on the issues that confront young women of color? It has opened my eyes to new realizations and allowed me to understand social issues better. I feel as though women of color are still downgraded. Today I interviewed a woman who was in the Iraq War and she was demeaned. I think that being African American has a lot to do with the way I’m perceived as not being capable enough. My teacher was shocked that I wanted to be an oncologist; he expected me to be a pediatrician. I’m not that fond of children anyway. I get that kind of prejudice very often. I only have one female oncologist and she is not taken as seriously as she should be. I feel that tension and I know that I will feel that in college because of the stereotypes that women of color don't have those aspirations.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Youth of Color College Panel: Talking Social Justice

Nationwide, youth of color continue to bear the brunt of the economic downturn. Young African American males have the highest unemployment rates in the nation and young black women are not far behind. According to the Pew Research Survey, whites have twenty times the wealth of African Americans and Latinos. In a 2003 study conducted by Princeton University researchers, white job seekers with criminal records were more likely to be offered a job than African American job seekers with no records and college degrees. Now more than ever before, equitable college access for black and Latino youth is a human rights imperative. On Wednesday, February 27th, youth of color graduates from Princeton, UCLA, USC and the California Institute of the Arts will discuss their paths to college and the challenges they've encountered vis-a-vis becoming academically prepared for college, encountering racism, sexism and homophobia on campus, finding college mentors, succeeding as an undocumented student and taking the next step to graduate school. Where: Washington Prep High School, Social Justice Hall, 11:25

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Everyday Struggles of Young Women of Color by Ariana Mercado

When I read ME by Sandra Manzanares, I could identify with her until the middle of her story where she falls victim to the roles society has placed on her and others and starts doubting who she really is. Sandra starts her story by saying “My heart, soul, brain, persona, eyes, smile, hair, skin-it’s all me. It’s what makes me.” I could identify with her up to this point because I also value myself and accept who I am and everything else that is part of me. The point in the story where I could no longer identify with Sandra was when she started to doubt herself because of what society led her to believe. She states in her story, “ I admit, sometimes I wonder if it would be better if we were all blue-eyed and blonde”, as I read this it sounded to me as if Hitler were talking because that is how Hitler envisioned the world to be perfect. I was shocked to see Sandra reiterate this very damaging standard of beauty that people of color are constantly measuring themselves against. I find that Sandra is working very hard on trying to understand identity as constructed by society more or less on her own because most adults (teachers, mentors, and parents) don’t want to talk about the effects of racism on us (young people). Perhaps adults believe if they just don’t talk about gender or racism, then it won’t exist in our lives. The truth is, that we see the effects of racism and gender bias everyday on television, on the internet, in the beliefs of teachers, friends, and ourselves. 

I'm Mixed Race by Ashley Jones

Recently, we (WLP members) read a passage on being mixed race by Sandra Manzanares published in a book called My Sisters' Voices. Sandra identifies as Hispanic and Black and talks about the difficulties of being part of different racial identities. 

I am of mixed race too...being Black and Thai, I understand some of the things that she went through. For example, if I do good on a test or in class, then some people will comment, "that's your Asian side." Although I am no longer surprised by such ignorant and uninvited comments, they have caused me to think about how young people perceive race and intelligence. If you were to ask these same people about race, they would tell you we are all equal and anyone can achieve anything they set their mind to, but when you listen to them talk at nutrition and lunch, you hear Blackness being constantly associated with violence, " being ghetto", and lack of intellectual abilities. Blackness is not the media stereotypes that too many youth of color confuse for authenticity. 

Things like this would sometimes get on my nerves, but I don't let it bother me now. I know who I am.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Jamion Allen on Dr. Kamela Heyward-Rotimi

On November 13, 2012 Dr. Kamela Heyward-Rotimi visited Washington Prep High School. She spent lunch with us, the Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) talking about her career, interests, and what its been like as an African-American woman pursuing her doctorate degree.

I enjoyed meeting Dr. Heyward-Rotimi. She is intelligent and sees certain things just as I do.
She talked to us about living in Nigeria. She was very honest about her experiences there. She related to us, that as an African-American she was made to feel out of place by Africans. She talked to us about how some Nigerians don’t believe that American born black communities have culture.
What stood out to me most about our conversation was when I mentioned to her that I want to leave my mark on this world.  She told me that I should set my sights on whatever I want to do because if I believe in myself and have a strategy to achieve my goals, then I will.

I will never forget meeting Dr. Kamela Heyward-Rotimi.