Black Student Caucus
MYAN hosted a multi-day virtual caucus for Black Student Unions and Black students from across Maine. Each Saturday of the month (four events in total), Black youth in Maine had the opportunity to collaborate and learn from one another and listen to four incredible keynote speakers.
For and By Black Youth in Maine
The Black Student Caucus explored themes of activism, self-expression, and Black joy hand-in-hand with lead event organizers Christina Donato and Laura Iteka, and high school student facilitators.
Each Saturday was dedicated to one of four main topics: Black Excellence, Black Self Preservation and Wellness, Shades of Blackness, and Black Expression.
The space was intended to foster networks and dialogues between Black youth in middle school, high school, college, and out-of-school. Additionally, Maine high school graduates who were pursuing plans for themselves outside of post-secondary education were welcomed.
Why the Caucus Matters
A number of Black students have been gathering in their communities and schools through racial affinity groups and through their Black Student Unions. This caucus highlighted the work that folks are doing to celebrate the milestones achieved and for Black youth to connect across the state of Maine. This is especially important for Black youth who are in schools that don’t have BSUs or existing support for racial affinity groups yet!
During this event, Black youth built up their collective sense of power and collaborated to address the root causes of systemic injustice. Black students also learned from and taught one another about organizing skills, shared knowledge and experiences, and empowered each other to fight for/advocate for racial equity in our education systems.
Past Keynote Speakers
Nyamuon Nguany Machar
Youth Health Council
The Youth Health Council (or YHC) was formed in the fall of 2021 by youth members from around the state. The team gathered in an effort to create an open and understanding environment where young people could explore their concerns, find support, and learn how to effect change in their communities.
Through statewide representation, the Youth Health Council leveraged a Youth Participation Action Research (YPAR) model to investigate public health issues, generate solutions and implement initiatives. Youth members researched community health needs through a variety of methods while partnering with adults who work and/or live in the communities. This collaborative approach targeted the root causes of public health issues and developed solutions to inform future policy decisions.
Community building was central to this process. Every team member brought valuable experiences to the Council. Through an intentional investment in relationships, the group ensured opportunities for individual expertise to surface. Combined with the team’s research work, this process primed us for collective problem-solving and action.
The team led with curiosity to determine the root causes of the issues, who was most impacted, what the barriers were in solving issues, and what was the best solution. By investigating the root causes of public health issues, young people can develop innovative, upstream solutions to challenges they, and their peers, are facing. Mental health, commercial tobacco use, substance use prevention, and food insecurity persistently and negatively impact the wellness of communities across Maine. The Youth Health Council was determined to create the solutions they know are needed!