A Call To Our Adult Allies
"When I joined the Rockaway Youth Task Force, I expected to learn about social justice issues and help educate others, maybe I could even go to a rally. What I didn’t expect was the change and inner personal growth that has empowered me to show leadership in my community and my own life. I have been granted so many amazing opportunities, including my new staff role as RYTF’s Community Engagement Organizer. Every youth deserves the chance to grow as much as I did."
- Andrea Colon, Rockaway resident, Age 17
2017 was a wild year, to say the least. Though our community made huge strides in gaining access to public transportation by way of the new free ferry shuttle bus and Q52 bus extensions, we also faced uncertainty about the future of our neighborhoods and schools. Local public school closures, increased immigration enforcement, encroaching gentrification, and the privatization of our public housing continue to threaten our membership and their families as we all struggle to find our footing in this harsh political climate. But through it all, we are so thankful to have had your support along the way. The growth that the Rockaway Youth Task Force has achieved in 2017 is a testament to our membership’s tenacity, hard work, and idealism.
Historically, youth are incredibly underestimated, especially youth of color. Society has taught us that we are not supposed to be leaders in our communities, agents of change, or role models, yet we’ve done this and more. And it’s your support that’s gotten us this far. This year, we’ve stood up against hatred and bigotry forced upon us by a hostile government through our advocacy. We’ve rallied to end the school-to-prison pipeline, fought for food justice, and demanded police reform. Along with our advocacy, we’ve made sure to engage our community on a personal level by creating space for education, reflection, healing, and fellowship. Internally, we tripled our youth membership, added five staff members, and launched the Rockaway Advocate, the Rockaway Peninsula’s only youth-run social justice magazine.
In 2018, we intend to build on our momentum. Engaging our young people in the media means occupying spaces that have traditionally silenced our voices and told our stories for us. We’re excited and determined to take on this challenge to take back our narrative. In an age where truth is under attack and neighborhood-based journalism is increasingly rare, it is now more important than ever that we are the ones who tell our own stories. Hyper-local citizen journalism projects like the Rockaway Advocate are our best defense in a political climate increasingly filled with misinformation and a system that actively seeks to tear us apart. Our coverage holds our government accountable, provides resources that promote civic engagement, lifts up local businesses, and celebrates the stories and successes of a community long underserved and ignored. We seek to investigate, inform, and inspire. Our stories fill a critical need in Rockaway, but it’s not easy for us to sustain this project with the energy and depth it deserves without the financial support of adult allies like you. Help us educate our young people to be better advocates, journalists, citizens, and neighbors.
Looking to 2018, there’s so much more than we can do. But we can’t do it alone. Your contributions make it possible for us to continue and grow ambitious projects like the Rockaway Advocate and bring high-quality, local journalism to the streets of Rockaway. Whether you can give five dollars, five hundred dollars, or anything in between, know that your financial support makes a real difference in our community. Despite the many challenges that 2017 has presented us with, we know that we will continue to grow and find new, creative, and holistic ways to sustain progressive change in Rockaway through youth-led activism. I’m asking you to join us in this fight.
I hope that you will join us in making a gift this year to support youth organizing and citizen journalism in Rockaway. To donate online, click here. Please make all check donations payable to Rockaway Youth Task Force (Mailing address: 1920 Mott Ave, Far Rockaway, NY 11691).
Milan R. Taylor
Rockaway Youth Task Force