In 2019 I was asked to create a curriculum as a part of the RBAC youth initiated program, YATTA Rising. YATTA stands for “Young Adults Transitioning To Adulthood” and was created by some of the young folx in RBAC. It came as synchronicity to me because for years we have been analyzing the fact that, upon graduating high school, young adults (17-24) in the Rainier Beach community are still in need of particular skills, information, and networks that equip them to be successful and healthy adults. We’ve recognized based on years of experience that Seattle Public Schools does NOT prepare our community’s young people for adulthood. We’ve learned that there are very few programs throughout the region that are focused on the plight of and equipping young adults with the tools they need to elevate themselves post-graduation. The idea of YATTA Rising emerged from this understanding, and was developed with a vision to focus on this.
The first System’s Change session ran from February-June 2020 and necessarily adapted to virtual (Google Meets) after March due to the pandemic. The curriculum was created as a way to utilize circle practice as a form of dialogue and learning, encourage individual research, and also provide resources for that research – all under a lens of ABOLITION. Some of the resources we use are Aaron Dixon’s (Seattle Black Panther Party Chairman) My People Are Rising, Norm Stamper’s (former Seattle Police Chief) To Protect and Serve, and adrienne maree brown’s (marvelous Detroit based organizer and author) Emergent Strategy.
So, we began by studying the hxstory of policing in the United States, contrasted with dreaming and setting a vision for a world without police. Fostering these kinds of spaces takes trust, critical thinking, and imagination – all of which we sought to educe through dynamic question asking and collective learning. It’s noteworthy that we began this class well before the Defund the Police movement began in Seattle and subsequently across the country and world.
As the world began to imagine a world without prisons and police, we were able to dive deeply into the ideas and concepts that local organizers have been lifting up for generations. Some of the learning objectives of this curriculum is to 1) increase YATTA confidence engaging and challenging the system of policing & prison, 2) increase YATTA agency to self-organize and build autonomous community safety, and 3) to begin fostering transformative relationships with local grassroots organizing collectives and learn from them. We’ve only just begun this process, having run through two full sessions in 2020. Currently, some of the YATTA’s who participate in the class are now teaching their own “Wellness Core” curriculum. Stay tuned for more information and elevation of Rainier Beach’s beloved YATTA’s! The young always inherit the revolution!
– Jerrell G. Davis