#TeenSummit2018: Immigration, Advocacy & Support by Steven Kenyon

February 7, 2018

We as a community need to help and support fellow immigrant allies and friends among us along with the immigration process itself. It is important to show love and support for everyone around us including immigrants which the image of over the years has been skewed into a term to be afraid of, we as a community need to help end this myth that all immigrants do not bring crime, drugs, and rape to the United States. Immigrant people are crucial to the country and should be welcomed into the United States like any other person without the hysteria and trailing stereotypes with being an immigrant.

Immigration for a long time has helped support the United States’ growth of the U.S. economy for instance. Immigrant and refugee people are not jobless and crime causers. Immigrants and refugees are entrepreneurs, job creators, taxpayers, and consumers.[1] Trillions of dollars are added to the United States’ GDP which will only increase with the upcoming decades as labor and job position demands will increase.[2] Through legislative reform to modernize the U.S. immigration system and provide unauthorized immigrants in the country with a path to citizenship would only help the U.S. economy and society even more so.[3] Now increased immigration enforcement and potential restrictions on legal immigrations and refugee resettlement will impose fiscal costs on taxpayers and threaten immigrants as well as their families, and communities across the country. Strengthening these detentions and deportations will not just cost taxpayers billions of dollars but also break up families and displace vulnerable individuals such as survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault within the U.S. as well as women and children fleeing violence in their homelands into peril.[4] To put it into perspective, about 43.4 million foreign-born people live within the U.S, 20.7 million naturalized U.S. citizens and 22.6 million noncitizens.[5] And to end the myth that immigrants bring crime into the country, a 2017 study by the Cat Institute found that the 2014 incarceration rate for immigrants-both authorized and unauthorized-ages 18 to 54 was considerably lower than that of the U.S.-born population.[6] While the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 11.1% to 13.5% from 2000 to 2015, FBI data indicate that violent crime rates across the country fell 16%, while property crime rates fell 21% during the same time period.[7] These are only a small handful of how immigrant people are discriminated and misjudged, there would be simply too many issues to list but now we know how crucial immigrants and the immigration process are to the country. As a community it is our job to help welcome people and help raise awareness about these issues together. https://www.immigrationadvocates.org is an amazing resource for the public to be educated upon important immigrant and immigration related issues. They provide and have a team of attorneys representing for immigrants all around the United States fighting for immigrants. A more local resource and example is the Iowa Immigrant Rights Program[8] who is directed by Erica Johnson in which the AFSC’s Iowa Immigrant Rights Program helps build a community for immigrants to help participate in political activities. This program helps hundreds of immigrants from dozens of countries. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center[9] is a team of legal experts that provide training and educational materials in order to further advance immigrant rights within the United States. One more resource is another law organization supporting immigrant rights and defending things such as DACA and supporting dreamers. They are referred to as the Nation Immigration Law Center[10]. All of these groups of people want to help immigrants and support their life here within the United States through various means whether it be raising awareness through programs and conference or supporting immigration lawfully and defending them which is a great commendable action. We can take after and or support these groups and help support our fellow immigrants within the country to make it a better and friendlier place to live.

[1] American Immigration Council, “Strength in Diversity: The Economic and Political Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians” (2015), available at https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/strength-diversity-economic-and-political-power-immigrants-latinos-and-asians.

[2] Francine D. Blau and Christopher Mackie, eds., “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration” (Washington: National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016), available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23550/the-economic-and-fiscal-consequences-of-immigration.

[3] Silva Mathema, “Infographic: Inaction on Immigration Is Too Costly,” Center for American Progress, April 9, 2015, available at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2015/04/09/110589/infographic-inaction-on-immigration-is-too-costly/.

[4] Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega, “The Economic Impacts of Removing Unauthorized Immigrant Workers” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2016), available at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2016/09/21/144363/the-economic-impacts-of-removing-unauthorized-immigrant-workers/; Joanna Dreby, “How Today’s Immigration Enforcement Policies Impact Children, Families, and Communities” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2012), available at https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/DrebyImmigrationFamilies.pdf.

[5] Bureau of the Census, Selected Characteristics of the Native and Foreign-Born Populations: 2015 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2015), available at https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_15_1YR_S0501&prodType=table.

[6] Michelangelo Landgrave and Alex Nowrasteh, “Criminal Immigrants: Their Numbers, Demographics, and Countries of Origin” (Washington: Cato Institute, 2017), available at https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/immigration_brief-1.pdf.

[7] Authors’ calculations based on data from Federal Bureau of Investigation, “2015 Crime in the United States,” available at https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015 (last accessed April 2017); Bureau of the Census, Selected Characteristics of the Native and Foreign-Born Populations; Bureau of the Census, Nativity, Citizenship, Year of Entry, and Region of Birth: 2000 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2003), available at https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml.

[8] https://www.afsc.org/program/iowa-immigrant-rights-program

[9] https://www.ilrc.org

[10] https://www.nilc.org

#TeenSummit2018: Boys Can Cry, Too: Ending the Stigma of Men Having Emotions by Steven Kenyon

January 31, 2018

The topic of toxic masculinity in our generation is an overbearing emotional issue that is important this day in age. It affects not just men but everyone as well due to the same catalyst that sparks this issue of men being unable to freely express their emotions without the fear of this catalyst, that being toxic masculinity and hypermasculinity. The first step to help ending and wearing down this issue is educating our generation and the public.

What is toxic masculinity you might ask? Toxic masculinity refers to traits of dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance, and the suppression of emotion. This rise of this kind of masculinity limits and puts various fears into the current age and youth of men not being able to express themselves freely in fear of being shunned and threatened by various sources of this toxic masculinity. An example of this can be shown with the hashtag of #MasculinitySoFragile was trending in September of 2015 to showcase these sources and attacks from hypermasculinity, especially online. In a rather emblematic tweet of the situation, Twitter user Mech of Justice (@mechofjusticewz) sneered, “I challenge any female tweeting unironically with #MasculinitySoFragile to last three rounds against me in a fight, We’ll see who’s fragile.” Which highlights the various online groups conducting these acts of hostility towards any sort of femininity or emotions shown through men. Online harassment is a large contributor towards this rise of toxic masculinity affecting those across the public and across social media. Another example of how toxic masculinity is how ingrained it is within societal norms and how it affects the youth of men and boys alike.

In 1998, William Pollack wrote a book titled “Real Boys: Rescuing Our Boys From the Myths of Boyhood”. He described the “boy code” as that it is required for boys to be stoic and independent, macho, athletic, powerful, dominant, and phobic of anything close to feminine. If not, they would be failures. These kinds of things ingrained within the norms of society can often be the motive and driving point for these retaliations against any hint of femininity or emotions within men. In a recent documentary, “The Mask You Live In” films boys from various backgrounds that describe the way that they suffer from our culture’s narrow definition of what is acceptable masculinity and what is not.[1] This is another example and as well as a means of educating the public about the true mental health effects that toxic masculinity has on men and boys alike. This important issue can lead boys into depression, conduct disorders, isolation, violence and problematic relationships as a result of this current problem.[2] According to the CDC males die from suicide four times more than females and represent 77.9% of all suicides. Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death for males and 14th for females. Results from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that females are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than males despite males having a higher suicide rate. Part of this might be for toxic masculinity to blame into pressuring males to not show or express emotions which lead into depression and suicide.[3] An associate professor of counseling psychology from Indiana University named Y. Joel Wong has also done extensive research into this topic picking apart certain masculine traits and how they contribute to the deterioration of mental health.[4]

Through means of education and discussing these issues of toxic masculinity and the problem with the fear of showing emotion among men we can crack down on ending the stigma behind men having emotions. Men are allowed to show vulnerability, and show weakness. Emotions are a human trait and not a female trait. As Voiceofyouth.org puts it best, “Men have tear ducts for a reason, men have emotions for a reason. We men were not made to feel heartless, we were not born without the ability to feel. We do feel things, some deeper than others, so why should we feel the need to hide these feelings from everyone around us?”[5]

What can we as a community do to help end the stigma of boys having emotions?

The first thing we can do is recognize and support organizations that help raise awareness of these issues like toxic masculinity. For instance, the National Organization for Men Against Sexism is a men organization of men and women that helps raise awareness and support positive changes for men. NOMAS advocates to have a perspective that is pro-feminist, gay affirmative and anti-racist.[6] The Healthy Masculinity Action Project is a national grassroots movement that looks to eradicate the harmful expectations and stereotypes with how our society teaches boys about what it means to be a man. The project aims to make a new generation of male leaders to be models of strength without violence and serve as positive change makers within society and taking their communities from awareness to action.[7] The next thing we can do is promote these types of organizations and take inspiration from them and apply them to our communities in order to help make it a better place. Another example being such as in Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois having a program called Students Against Sexism in Society (SASS) which helps raise awareness with gender equality and to create a space where all genders can discuss issues that affect them.[8] We can take examples such as these apply them to our own communities as we are now with Teen Summit to help raise awareness with issues such as this one, with dope programs like these. Precautions like these can help support our folks, become even stronger allies with one another, and make our society and communities an even safer place without having to worry about expressing one’s self.

[1] http://therepresentationproject.org/film/the-mask-you-live-in/

[2] Laura Kastner, PH.D. October 10,2017


[3] https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/toxic-masculinity-and-the-negative-effects-on-men-babb/

[4] http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/11/sexism-harmful.aspx

[5] http://www.voicesofyouth.org/en/posts/toxic-masculinity

[6] http://nomas.org

[7] https://www.mencanstoprape.org/Healthy-Masculinity-Action-Project/

[8] https://www.knox.edu/campus-life/student-organizations/sass

#TeenSummit2018: Featured Emcee Javon Johnson by Lexi Tolson

January 30, 2018

Javon Johnson is a published author, killer poet, and so much more! Javon began writing poetry and performing in 2001, won the national slam in both 2003 and 2004, and placed third in slam nationals in 2005! Javon is also a co-writer of this amazing documentary called Crossover, so go check it out ! Javon also made some pretty special appearances on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, BET’s Lyric Café, TV One’s Verses and Flow, The Steve Harvey Show, Arsenio Hall Show, and United Shades of America w/ Kamau Bell on CNN, and will be making a grand appearance at our very own Teen Summit! But don’t sleep, along with all of Javon Johnson’s accomplishments, he’s done so much more. Javon earned an Ph.D in Performance Studies, making him Dr. Johnson, along with being an Assistant Professor and Director of African American and African Diaspora studies. Javon has mounted exhibitions at the California African American Museum, managing the history department, and now he’s coming to support our Movement and students in Des Moines Public Schools to get free and stay as woke as we can be! PSA: YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS! Come and get acquainted with Dr. Javon Johnson at RunDSM’s 5th Annual Teen Summit. Our space is your space, and we cant wait to see y’all there! #Teensummit2018