My Experience at the Responsibility Urban Retreat 2012

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

by Ratema Uch

A trip for eleven to Washington DC from the Bay Area sounded like a great chance to enact change in policy, make new friends from across the nation, and grow as organizers. And it was.

As the only organizing group representing California, the youth of Forward Together’s CORE program felt the pressure to rep Oakland (and Mac Dre) to the best of our abilities. I can’t say Washington DC greeted us with open arms. We arrived hot and sweaty expecting cold weather, only to get slapped in the face with a wave of heat through the Metro and the fast-pace life of politicians. The first night was not one of great interaction. But as the days wore on, it seemed as though Oakland got more and more popular as youth from Alabama, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, and even Jamaica began to rave about their hopes of visiting Oakland, CA in the near future.

Best believe Oakland introduced ourselves well with a “Let’s Talk About Sex” song and Shabooyah Roll Call. All it took for us to break out of our shells was being loud and obnoxious in our hotel room later that night, attracting other youth who thought, “This must be where the party’s at,” accompanied with multiple knocks on our door (including two from hotel security).

Between the workshops and evening events throughout the five days, we learned how to become better leaders, connect with social media, and connect with other youth fighting for a comprehensive sex education in their regions. We got advice on life, too. ;)

Lobby day was a bittersweet day. We woke up bright and early, packed up, and suited up in our best professional attire to get ready to speak with representatives of California Senators and Reps like Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, and Babara Lee. We were all pretty nervous, but once our first meeting was over, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. We were lucky to meet with people who already support the need for comprehensive sex ed in CA, but they also took notice of our stories about our lives in Oakland. It just felt SO GOOD to know that support us and were impressed with the Sex Ed the City campaign. Makes you feel like you’re really making a difference in policy. I mean, shit, we were making a name for ourselves at Capitol Hill! If that ain’t making change, I don’t know what is. But then again, it was the last day and I was sad to leave. :’(

Overall, UR2012 was a great experience. I met so many people that I will miss dearly and I just felt so comfortable with everyone because everyone was comfortable with their sexuality and selves, (which made Sunday’s dance and talent show the best).

Pretty sure we repped Oakland hella hard. MEEP.