Along the way, however, we realized it was profoundly moving and educational to hear the testimonies of the young people of color who were interviewed for the series
We knew we needed to amplify their voices through the podcast.
So, without total clarity of what we were doing or what the final product would look like, we started meeting weekly with the youth. We rarely managed to have the whole group at the same time. It is not easy to be a student, an advocate, a volunteer, and a producer simultaneously, yet we’re proud of what came out of the process.
We don’t yet know how we will continue, but for now, hope these episodes help you get a sense of who young people of color are in Montgomery County — and how they’re no different from the rest of the youth of color in Pennsylvania.
Emma Restrepo, an independent journalist and host of DosPuntos Podcast, facilitated the conversations and meetings with youth participants. Yeison Nieto was the audio producer in coordination with Restrepo.
The young people who made this podcast possible are:
- Daniely Castaneda Angel – A senior at Upper Marion High School and incoming first-generation college student
- Ivianna Littles –A criminal Justice graduate from Temple University who is becoming a lawyer
- Avery Manning – A West Chester University graduate. He is involved in local government. And he is also is Assistant Deans of Pine Forge Academy in the boys dormitory. It is an historically black institution.
- Thaddaeus Pay-II – A children’s rights advocate and president of the NAACP Norristown Education Community
- Yesenia Zavala Jimenez – A Norristown-area high school student and incoming first-generation college student
Episode #1: disParities in education – institutional introduction
A short and sharp conversation about what an inequitable education system means for youth of color. In a dynamic dialogue, Donna Cooper, Children First CEO, and Thaddaeus Pay-II, a college student at Cabrini University and advocate for children’s rights, explain to us from institutional and personal perspectives why the lawsuit against legislators is, so far, the only alternative to achieve fair education in the state of PA.
Episode #2: Youth Group and Podcast Introduction
In this episode, two students, Yesenia Zavala and Daniely Castaneda, talk with Donna Cooper, the Executive Director of Children First. They told us about their experience participating in the disParities Media Project and podcast and shared stressors they face as young people.
Episode #3: Mental Health
A frank conversation about mental health for students of color. Students discuss how they dealt with the last two years of the pandemic, in addition to the other pandemic, systemic racism. Listen to their stories and suggestions for solutions. We recommend this episode to those who interact with students in schools, from staff to teachers and parents.
Episode #4: Students of Color and Higher Education
Two students who are in the process of access to higher education ask another student what the experience of applying and entering a career is, being a first-generation student and person of color. If you are a parent, we highly recommend you to listen to this episode.
Episode #5: Persist!
Two students interview Dr. Laura Perna about the challenges youth of color face in pursuing higher education. From the frankness of their experiences, Dr. Perna offers answers for young people and for the educational system in its obligation to fulfill the dream of higher education. We recommend this episode, especially to first-generation students applying to college. We also recommend the episode to policymakers and those who make decisions in education. Dr. Laura Perna is GSE Centennial Presidential Professor of Education and Executive Director at the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania.
Episode #6: A Dialogue, by Two Activists, about Montco Politics
Two African-American women activists, Angelique Hinton and Ivianna Littles, discuss fairness in politics in Montgomery County and the importance of voting. If you’re involved in the politics in this county, this is a conversation for you. And if you’ve wanted to become an advocate, this episode is for you as well.