KINETIC, Advancing Justice | Chicago’s youth empowerment program, works to create a community for, and increase the visibility of, Asian American and immigrant students by broadening each youth’s understanding of the root causes of racial inequity, while also pushing them to create and act on solutions. Our youth organizing staff have been hard at work implementing curriculum and developing young leaders by partnering with English Language Learning classes at Kelly and Lakeview High Schools in Chicago, and working closely with immigrant and refugee students. Through KINETIC, over 100 youth this year have been empowered to share their personal stories, speak up for immigrant rights, lead our community by practicing solidarity with others, and take action to address racial inequity.
“Everyday, we witness the incredible resilience of Chicago’s immigrant and refugee youth, many of whom are breadwinners, caretakers, and language brokers when they are not being students,” said Steve Moon, Senior Organizer of Youth Programs. “These are youth who simply do not have the luxury of choosing to be the leaders of the future, so we choose to celebrate and invest in our KINETIC participants as ‘now leaders,’ or leaders who are making a difference in their families, communities, and schools right NOW.”
- For calendar year 2016, classroom partnerships continue in Lakeview and Kelly High Schools. We will also be running KINETIC curriculum in Mather high school this year! Over 100 students will participate in KINETIC programming in 2016.
- Thirty KINETIC students attended the 5th annual Asian American Action Day and met with 8 legislators, speaking about the importance of culturally relevant education in schools, and what can be done to make college more accessible.
- KINETIC students organized and recruited for the first ever Mandarin-language track at the 2016 Asian American Leadership Forum.
- Two KINETIC participants were recognized by Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger during Asian American Heritage Month, and received leadership awards for their community work. Congratulations to Nurai and Maleeha (Maleeha also participated in Chicago Desi Youth Rising)
- At January 2015’s Mayoral Candidates’ Forum, KINETIC youth voted on a question to ask the candidates, landing on the issues of resources for English language learners in CPS, as well as whether the candidates would support an elected representative school board. KINETIC alumn Shuyun stepped to the microphone and provided a powerful personal testimony about her challenges as a recent immigrant who didn’t know any English when she first started at Lakeview High School. Shuyun said of the candidates’ responses: “I felt surprised and amazed because they care about language of immigrant students, and Asian cultures. I hope that their answers will work and come true for every Chicago Public School in the future. Also, all immigrant youth could have chance to challenge themselves and be successful in the future.”
- KINETIC youth core leaders also voted to support the push for reparations for victims of police torture. Together with the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Connect Force, Kuumba Lynx, Elephant Rebellion, and the Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Task Force, they got a commitment from Alderman Harry Osterman to sign on and become a sponsor of the reparations ordinance. Tonin, a KINETIC youth leader, said that the group wanted to support reparations because “If the city doesn’t want to pay for this, it means police torture could still be happening today. Everyone knows that this happened, and they know that it’s wrong.
- On March 9, 2015 KINETIC youth shared their personal experiences with bullying in a listening session set up by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAPPI), and facilitated by WHIAAPI commission member, and Advancing Justice | Chicago board member Billy Dec. For more information and resources visit http://www.stopbullying.gov/
- In February, 2015 KINETIC youth Abby had prepared to ask a question to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a meeting, but the mayor cancelled the meeting at the last minute. She said of his cancellation: “I was so excited to finally talk to the mayor – first of all, because I wanted to meet him and secondly because I wanted to speak for my community. The question I was going to ask was really important because as an immigrant I totally understand how families feels on getting paid less than we’re supposed to. Also because I wanted to see if he will help us support our community but once again law doesn’t mean anything without justice.”
- KINETIC Lake View HS students researched the mayoral candidates to make their determination of who they think is right to be our next mayor. Check out their opinions in the video here. Disclaimer: the opinions in this video do not necessarily reflect those of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago.
- October 2015 brought KINETIC’s first Art Gallery, a showcase of art inspired by their experiences as immigrant and refugee students. Over 50 people attended the art gallery opening, hosted at Royal Coffee in Rogers Park.