Kimberly Gudino quickly realized that when she was growing up there was very little representation of positive female role models that resembled her, so she took it upon herself to create Brown Issues in 2017, which is a California statewide youth leadership organization that seeks to develop the next generation of Brown Leaders. “I knew that I had to reach the younger version of myself because I knew that there were millions of Latinas out there that had grown up just like me, and traditional media and Hollywood wouldn’t know how to speak to them in ways that would call upon their strength and set before them goals that were realistic, attainable and admirable,” she tells HOLA! USA. “I also knew that you couldn’t just set the stage for young girls; I also had to make sure that young boys had the opportunity to see themselves as something more. Some of the progress that needs to be made for our young women is interconnected to how we raise our boys.”
In fact her platform has caught the attention of Diane Guerrero. “She‘s this young girl who I really admire, and she does these blogs, these videos, these long videos about her community and she raises brown issues,” she shares. Keep reading to learn more about Kimberly’s Brown Issues.
What was your mission when launching Brown Issues: Growing up, I saw very little representation of positive Brown female role models – mujeres who took charge because of their intelligence, wisdom and wit. As I began to become more civically engaged, I was regularly being exposed to Brown women who found their voice and knew how to exercise it to address social problems and move our community forward. At a glance, one will quickly notice that @BrownIssues is effectively changing the narrative for how Brown people see ourselves and how others see us. The page highlights programs that seek to cultivate the healing and leadership skills of our youth, campaigns that tackle historic forms of systematic oppression, news pieces that aim to keep us informed, art that challenges our thinking around certain issues and simply pictures of us being unashamed of celebrating our cultura.
How has it grown over the years? Our origins are rooted in the Sacramento City College Cultural Awareness Center where youth gathered around tables to discuss the topics that were not being discussed enough in the classrooms from gang violence to mass incarceration to alcoholism, education reform, health care, immigrant rights, etc. Eventually those spontaneous conversations became discussions, the discussions became structured circles, and those circles became an organization. Today, the organization has spread to multiple middle school, high school, and university chapters. Statewide Policy Bootcamps have been designed to teach high school students the California Legislative process, Summer Youth Organizing Camps take place to coalesce the voice of chapters from various cities into a unified voice. And, campaigns have taken off that are directed to create systems change. The page has grown from a few hundred followers to over 100k active digital members.
Best part of forming it: The best part of forming Brown Issues has been the opportunity to bring inspiration and leadership opportunities to young people’s lives. And a key element that makes our work work is that our Brown Issues mentors are authentic messengers to our youth because they’ve grown up in similar poverty stricken environments as the youth we serve. If there was something about your life that you found tough, Brown Issues gives you the opportunity to lighten the load for the next generation and put something positive back where the pain has been.
Uplifting message for the future: We are the ones we’ve been waiting for! Youth are the present and future of California. Brown Issues is taking the reins of our collective power - as change agents, voters, as storytellers and as lifelong advocates. And, this movement of connected and engaged advocates will help uproot long standing systematic forms of racism, economic inequality and patriarchy so that the next generation can breathe.
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Before Covid 19 HIT, our very own, Lizette Tafolla Aguilar, was SHOWING UP to the Woodland City Council meetings along with other members of Brown Issues and Woodland residents to advance the first ever “Community Healing and Prevention Task Force” in the city of Woodland: . . The drafted goals for this task force would be to: “1. Address the immediate social emotional health needs of young people affected by the recent violence in our community. 2. Assist our young people in the healing process to address adverse childhood experiences and trauma. 3. Increase investments in the future aspirations of our young people, such as but not limited to: college readiness and career development opportunities that ultimately increases one’s life outcomes.” . . ‘We need to go beyond the idea of suppression and create the conditions that can truely support the future goals and aspirations of all youth in the city of Woodland. History has proven time and time again, we can’t arrest our way out of any social problem.’ . . . . . #BrownIssues #TaskForce #WakeTheGiant #Woodland #YoloCounty #Yolo #530
Who uplifts you: My community uplifts me. To be honest, it took me a long time to figure that out. When you grow up in a community that is deemed ghetto, unsafe and poor, you only see the bad of that community. And, it wasn’t until I began to interact with my community at a much deeper level that I saw my reality. My reality is that my community is rooted in love, strength and cultural diversity.
Who do you hope to uplift with your organization: Everyone, but I hope to reach the person who feels hopeless, disempowered and given up on. Be it in a digital space or a physical space, I want to find those young people and hold a mirror up to them so they can see how smart, beautiful and worthy they really are. In so many ways, I want to find versions of my younger self to not just tell them that they’ll be okay, but to let them know that things are going to be good.
Future goals: I want to see my mom heal. I want to see Brown people find our collective voice and identity, especially as indigenous people. And, I want to see the next generation push out the circle of compassion so far that people are no longer discriminated against because of the race, sexual orientation, religion and overall being.