Arizona has become nationally known for facing a particularly concentrated, racially-hostile environment. Public discourse has taken a decidedly negative turn, opportunity-limiting legislation has overwhelmingly passed, and focused racial /ethnic crackdowns from local political figures have targeted specific minority populations. Despite the glaring problems, the state continues to face adversity to open racial discourse. Since 2001, the Commission on African American Affairs has been involved in bridging racial divides amongst all races and informing and preparing the African American community on issues relevant to the community. Since its inception, the Commission has specifically engaged youth in the learning, the impact of public policy and its relevance within the State’s power structure. Responding to a call from the community to address Arizona’s increasingly hostile environment, funding is sought to support expansion of the youth program.
Leveraging existing inter-ethnic partnerships held with community and public-sector organizations and direct, positive relationships with state political figures, this project will promote cross-cultural understanding between the dominate culture and minority cultures among Arizona’s youth, empower minority cultures to learn how to effectively use the structures of power within Arizona through a structured, mentorship program, and implement a youth-led social media campaign called, “In Their Own Words” to log personal experiences, recruit and disseminate information through an interactive web site.