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Johnathan Hemphill

We must go into the Black and Jewish ghettos, Latino and Hispanic boroughs, white trailer parks and dying Appalachian towns, China, Vietnamese, and Korea towns. We need to bring young people from these communities to the table and caucus with those who are the most affected. This must be done without hesitation and an extension of our commitment to lifting and deepening the leadership of youth most affected by poverty, and to building unity across lines of divisions of race, creed, and religion. In doing so, we are demonstrating the power of people coming together on issues that affect us all.

It goes without saying that some may question our passion and urgency to do this now, seduced by the alluring and placating notion of gradualism. And while I cannot speak for you, I can say firmly as an advocate that it is because I cannot wait; it is because if not now, when? and if not me, who? If there was any era I should want to be in to make the greatest impact, it would be this time right now. For in this moment and every moment that has preceded it and succeeds it — we have at our disposal the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes that our forefathers rooted in humanism could have only dreamed.

We must constantly seek improvement for ourselves and those around us, and we must continue to do so until there are no tent cities or panhandlers in the street — not because they have been swept or put in prison or asylums, but because they are resting peacefully in warm beds in homes of their own where they should be.

As advocates we must stick to the belief that people should not live in or die from poverty. We cannot fall victim to the false narrative so often perpetuated about these young people to justify criminalization and to perpetuate the economic exploitation, exclusion, and deep inequality that they experience.

And remember we are tasked with no light burden. We must constantly seek improvement for ourselves and those around us, and we must continue to do so until there are no tent cities or panhandlers in the street — not because they have been swept or put in prison or asylums, but because they are resting peacefully in warm beds in homes of their own where they should be.

As we look to change society, look also in the mirror and realize that we are both a part of the problem and indispensable to its solution. We are the harbingers of change we have been waiting for. And so, I will depend on you as you depend on me, arm in arm as we march to the mountaintop and take actions which realize the land of our promise to ourselves and to our young people.

2019 Archives

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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit www.mockingbirdsociety.org, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ mockingbirdsociety.org. Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.