Youth and Government may still be predominantly white but McClymonds and other chapters such as Crenshaw, San Francisco and East LA are hoping to make an impact
By Janaya Andrews
For 16-year-old Khristan Antoine, a senior at McClymonds, it was a taste of what it might be to change the world.
“I learned not to give up when something’s hard and to put up with some judging and prejudice,” she said.
After five days of writing bills, lobbying and debating issues in Sacramento, students from McClymonds said that their five-day experience with YMCA Youth and Government was worthwhile and challenging.
The delegation from McClymonds, led by YMCA’s Erika Walker, has grown from six students to 18 students, the most ever, including 10 sophomores and four freshmen.
The bills they wrote, lobbied for and debated included a proposal to set a minimum age for marriage at 16, to hold gun buybacks twice a year and to require all drivers — not just teens — to have six hours of training behind the wheel and go through a period of time on a permit.
Antoine said that she joined this program because her leadership teacher Relonda McGhee said it would be a great idea if she joined Y&G.
The only criticism that McClymonds students expressed centered on the long sessions and strict dress codes (several students bought new “business” clothes).
Despite the restrictions, students said they bonded with others and learned how to argue and compromise. Daijahnae Labat, 14, a freshman, said that she just wanted to try new things.
“I liked the team building,” said Dazhane Labat, 15, another freshman. “We learned about how goverment works and all its practices.”
Will New Gun Laws in Oakland Make Mack School Students Safer?
by Anthony Beron
Will tracking guns reduce violence? Or is this just another unworkable solution?
In Oakland, guns appear and multiply. And get used, over and over again.
At McClymonds, students feel mixed about the effectiveness of proposed assembly bill number 180, sponsored by Rob Bonta, D-Alameda that allows the city of Oakland to pass its own gun regulations. Would it have any impact on the street violence that Mack students witness?
“As younger people in the streets get guns, they don’t wanna settle out a fight with their hands- they just kill with a gun,” declares a solemn-looking Lee Benson.
Gun control remains a major problem in Oakland, especially West Oakland. Five McClymonds High students and alumni were shot in 2012, which is just a fraction of the 1,594 total shooting victims in Oakland last year.
Three hundred and sixty crimes occur per square mile in the “hella” city, which is 320 above the national median according to the website neighborhoodscout. The Business Insider ranked Oakland as the second most dangerous city in the United States as of 2012.
“The main problem with this is if we track guns that will just give people another reason to use them more quickly,” argued Kardel Howard, “they’re defiant, and there’ll be more violent if rules and deadlines are forced onto them.”
Others feel that you just do the math. “Less guns means less violence,” said Jacob Miles, Mack senior.
“’The opponents like to paint it as some unreasonable restriction on gun ownership,’” said California senator Darrell Steinberg to the Sacramento Bee. “’And these bills are anything but. They are drawing a very careful distinction between gun ownership for sport, hunting and even self-defense – versus these guns that by definition fire dozens or hundreds of rounds indiscriminately and kill people.’”
Will restrictions work? We will see when (if) this new proposed assembly bill is signed by Governor Jerry Brown by October 13th.
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