Help Mari Raise $150 for CYAP!

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Arguably the best thing going on in Charleston is the Carolina Youth Action Project (CYAP), an anti-racist, intersectional feminist nonprofit that mentors youth leaders to research local social justice issues and run campaigns like Sex Education Beyond Abstinence and Safer Schools Without School Resource Officers in order to change laws, policies, and, ultimately, minds. As a member of the board of directors, I am helping CYAP raise funds to support our work in Charleston during our “$7K in 7 Days” fundraiser.

I am personally invested in the work that CYAP does for three main reasons:

1. CYAP challenges systemic oppression from the heart of the Deep South. The perception of the South by the rest of the nation is that, because of its political conservatism and history of white supremacist, misogynist, anti-queer, anti-trans, anti-immigrant violence, the region is beyond the pale and certainly could not be the source of effective organizing for justice. ‘Effective’ social justice movements, it seems, come out of regions where progressive politics have a stronger foothold. CYAP flies in the face of this conventional wisdom. We look at this inhospitable terrain and the seemingly insurmountable odds and we remember the long history of freedom fighters in this region, from the enslaved people who organized the Stono Rebellion and the Combahee River Raid to Septima Clark who organized Citizenship Schools during the Civil Rights Movement and the hospital workers who went on strike at the Medical University of South Carolina. We see in their struggles inspiration for confronting systemic oppression in our own times.

2. CYAP takes a truly intersectional approach to dismantling systems of oppression and organizing young people. We take the words of bell hooks to heart in our initiatives and in our core values: “[feminism] is a commitment to eradicating the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels—sex, race, and class, to name a few—and a commitment to reorganizing U.S. society so that the self-development of people can take precedence over imperialism, economic expansion, and material desires.”

3. CYAP empowers young people themselves to become organizers of social justice campaigns about issues they care about. This year, the young people participating in the Youth Action Alliance developed two campaigns: Safer Schools without SROs (school resource officers—basically police officers in schools) and Sex Education Beyond Abstinence. Drawing inspiration from the social activists and theorists they have been learning about since last year, they are researching these subjects and developing alternatives to current policies in order to make South Carolina a more just place for all of us to live and thrive. As an educator, I value the way in which CYAP introduces young people to social justice as praxis.

I hope you will contribute to this important work by donating today and helping me reach my $150 fundraising goal!

Thank you,

Mari

Kenya Cummings