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Welcome to the South End Stories Youth Blog!

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

Orca K-8 School MLK Day march, January 2020 (Photo: Courtesy of South End Stories)

by Aliyah Newman, Chapel Barnes, and Moriah Reibman

Hi all! Welcome to the South End Stories youth blog. We are a youth-led online publication focused on spreading awareness about topics and current events pertinent to our community of youth and young-adult readers in the South End of Seattle. We’re casting our net into Seattle and South King County to find out how the Black Lives Matter movement, COVID-19 pandemic, and so many other issues have affected our neighbors and friends. You will hear from a diverse cast and crew of youth activists, community organizers, artists, and critical thinkers about their take on the current state of chaos, and how they somehow are navigating the world through it all. 

Just as South End Stories focuses on storytelling and art in education, this blog will be an intersection of youth art, film, poems, and stories. The goal is for our readers to connect to our youth community and find comfort in the similar and different experiences of existing as a South End young person in this day and age. This blog will center voices that are less amplified than others. This means lifting up young Black voices, young Black Trans voices, young voices from immigrant families, young voices from low-income families, young Indigenous voices, young LGBTQIA+ voices, young artists, essayists, and many more.

Seattle is notorious across the US and beyond for being a “political echo chamber.” While the validity of this belief may vary from neighborhood-to-neighborhood, it is certain that the South End of King County is made-up of a diverse set of residents, immigrants, students, and families. Therefore, our reality is one of duality. The duality of celebrating the “liberalism” of our blue state, the City Council’s move to cut SPD funding by 50% in response to CHOP and other demonstrations. But also facing the reality of our houseless-people's crisis, segregation subsequent of Seattle’s decades of red-lining, child sex trafficking problem, economic inequality, and gentrification, to name a few. The hard truth is that we can do better. We need to come together as a community, identify and bring awareness to what it is that divides us. 

Chapel remembers the first time she watched KOMO New’s Special: “Seattle is Dying” in her junior year humanities class at Cleveland High School. It was uncompassionate, privileged, and a perfect example of how local news, though not always with intention, can cause harm to communities by reporting from a perspective that overpowers the narrative time and time again. In KOMO’s case, it was reporting on Seattle’s incredibly complicated homeless problem from the perspective of people who have homes. The misrepresentative narratives found in local media have damaging effects; not only on the people whose perspectives it excludes but also on the readers who begin to form implicit biases as a result of the often one-sided stories they’re presented with.

When you see the news on TV, or annotate an article in school, how many people look like you? Talk like you? Think about the world the same way as you? What barriers and norms are in place that determine which people and their identities get to report what’s happening in the world? It’s critical that POC, womxn, disabled, poor, queer, and youth voices are being shared and heard. We’re tired of the bull. We want to hear from out-of-the-box thinkers and speakers that represent the intricate and multifaceted communities of the South End.

The South End Stories youth blog will offer perspectives that youth can relate to. What was it like watching the neighborhood you grew up in change seemingly overnight? What is it like hearing adults talk about current events and not being invited into the conversation? What is it like battling a pandemic and police brutality before you’ve even gotten your driver's license? How are you explaining all of this to your parents? There are so many things we can name that youth want to report on and share about from segregation and institutionalized racism in and out of the classroom, to mass/youth incarceration, the global health crisis, food deserts, and the houseless peoples epidemic.

The opportunity to help start this blog to us, as young white womxn from the South End, means that this shared platform belongs to the community, not to us alone. While we are all passionate about activism and social justice, in order to truly enact that change in power and perspective that we speak about, our goal is to hand the mic over as soon as possible, shifting leadership to other South Seattle youth who face these issues in real life. Our job is to kick-start this blog, help get momentum and create a vision, and then to give the reins to people who know more about these ideas than we do. We will still be writing pieces to contribute, as it is what we love to do, but the creative direction won’t be ours to dictate. We welcome any feedback or desired change, and will not hold our own ideas above those who have experienced the things we write about.

The South End Stories youth blog will be sharing Black, Indigenous, POC-centered content weekly, including submissions from the community. You can expect to see artwork, short films, poetry, essays, and other displays of South End talent in tandem with SES summer student work. We believe that artists need to be paid for their work, and we will never ask people to give their art for free. Whether you feel most comfortable relaying via song, a poem, a work of short fiction, an essay, whatever, we’re here for it! And we want to hear from you! So if you have something to say, yell it loud and proud from the tippy-top of the mountaintop.

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