In celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, here is a poem written by Ann Guiam, a youth poet and youth organizer here at RYSE.
Ann is a Philippine born, Richmond raised artist whose passions reside in art and music. Ann uses art as a therapeutic practice that helps her remain calm and relaxed. Her art evoke themes of freedom despite the obstacles that keep us from being free.
Ann’s goal is to create a movement that changes the lives of youth all over the world. On May 25th, Ann performed in RYSE’s Youthtopia: Against Gentrification at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.
In addition to being a poet and artist, Ann is one of our RYOT interns. As a RYSE youth organizer, she explores issues in her communities and is an advocate for youth voices.
you are down to earth
down to earth is what you are to me.
the way you sweep the purity on your roots that you keep and never let go of because it is you.
chains that wrap around you but ignore because you claim to be free when you’re in these arms.
the strident words you say to yourself
made your mind into the bully to your own heart and not even you, your own full body,
cannot be an ally.
all those words that molded views of your future, where you wanted to be and the person you have always wanted to be
those became lies and just words all in one cry
you lie to yourself so no one can see the truth. you have hidden all of it so you can feel safe. sure it’s security but do you even feel secure in your own self violence? that you keep in your confused and salvage mind where you store the letters of sorrow you write yourself when you’re in bed alone at night.
then wake up telling yourself you’ll be fine when you probably can’t even look at yourself in the mirror without a sigh
you go on with your day and reflect at the end.
as you reflect, you leave out the bad moments and keep the ones you think were good when it’s the ones that makes you lie to yourself.
you are down to earth but you’re so deep in this earth
you start to lose the sunlight that wants to shine on you but you keep burying yourself in the cold lonely ground and wonder “will anyone ever dig me back up?’
you’re afraid to get the sunburns
you’re afraid to peel your skin
because deep in your skin are the truth you cannot reveal
under your skin is the flesh you hide from the ones you love when all they want to see if
you’re pure inside
and below the flesh comes the blood that flow through your body
the blood that you carry on the daily
the blood you represent yourself and your family and generations before you and after you
the blood you cannot hide because once you peel your skin it will flow out with words and
actions of regrets you carried
you hid from the sunlight so you can’t be burnt
you hid from the chances you knew you wanted but was afraid of
now you let yourself feel this way even if you feel your skin burning every step of the way
as you reveal your flesh
you stop being down to earth
you stop hiding from the light
instead you become the shade everyone seeks for when they start to hide from their own
and you let it happen because you want to become the shade so they won’t burn when
you’re the one that bleeds through the pain
but look, if you let them see you as the shade for their burning skin
soon, you’ll really be down in this earth.
Thanks everyone who came to Youthtopia: In the Face of Gentrification!
On Saturday, May 25th, RYSE youth brought to life the multimedia performance they’ve been writing, crafting, creating, and rehearsing for months! Youthtopia is an original project produced and performed by Richmond youth, and explores their stories and lived experiences with displacement, prejudice, and systems of oppression. RYSE youth performers moved through spoken word, dance, music, visual, and video arts.
May at RYSE
This past weekend, RYSE youth performed for Youthtopia: In the Face of Gentrification, a multimedia production that they wrote and produced at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts!
In May, our youth organizing interns and school campaign leaders organized for and participated in the Schools and Communities First Rally, as well as hosted prep sessions and attended district meetings with fellow students and parents to advise on how funding can be used to improve outcomes for students, particularly those who are of a lower income, English learners, or foster youth.
Our youth organizers are also preparing for the very first 7-week Youth Organizing Academy, “THIS IS HOW WE RYSE: Remember, Reclaim, Resist, and Reimagine'“
RYSE youth leaders also participated in Quest for Democracy in Sacramento, a day of advocacy for youth, adults, and families who have been impacted by incarceration.
RYSE’s “Let’s Talk About Sex” interns organized and led “Sex Week” to educate their peers on healthy sexuality and relationships through workshops and group activities.
In our "Hire Up" program, youth members created career life maps to understand their past and the potential future of their passions. Our Career Pathways Specialist, Mikaela, shared: "It was a very open and vulnerable space. Members shared about deep pains that are now translated into driving forces to make change in their worlds. Every member wanted to do work that serves their communities, brings healing to those in need of it, and implements justice in our society."
Rich in Health
Join us for a Community Health Resource Fair for young people aged 13-21 years old. This event will feature a range of FREE health services focused on supporting the wellbeing of young people in West Contra Costa County.
Light food and refreshments will be provided.
WHEN: Friday, May 31st from 4 - 7 PM
WHERE: RYSE Center
PDF Flyers are available in English and in Spanish.