Youth share powerful presentations, offer solutions to virtual room of criminal justice policymakers
One by one, members of Word is Bond, a nonprofit for youth ages 16 to 21, virtually introduced themselves to the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council on Aug. 10. They shared more than their names. They shared their mantras.
“I’m Ristom Habtemariam. My mantra is: ‘I am Eritrean. I am self-reliant. I am a radical thinker. I am always one step away from achieving whatever’s in front of me. I am Ristom.’”
“My name is Isaiah Carter. I’m 19 and I graduated from Reynolds High School. My mantra is: ‘I'm the oldest brother of three siblings. I am a role model for the next generation. I am determined to make a difference. I am never done. I am who I am, and you will not change me.’”
The youths who participate in Word is Bond repeat their mantras every day.
“They are affirmations that we feel define us and liberate us,” Habtemariam said.
Only on this day, they repeated them in front of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council’s Executive Committee — County and regional leaders charged with forging equitable, data-driven policy in the criminal justice system.
Word is Bond’s mission is to “rewrite the narrative about Black men through leadership development, critical dialogue and education.” And at the Aug. 10 meeting, where they presented their findings on ways to improve the justice system, they were joined by members of the Multnomah Youth Commission, as well as members of Youth Educating Police a youth-led organization aimed at “reducing animosity and systemic disconnect between law enforcement and young people.” [Read more]