This month, we’re featuring Amara Santos in our Youth Spotlight series. She’s a member of the San Francisco Youth Commission, and is passionate about “social equity for all communities.” Check out how she’s playing a role in making San Francisco a better community for young people.
Question: Who appointed you to the Youth Commission and why were you chosen?
Answer: I was appointed by supervisor Safaí to the SF Youth Commission, and I was chosen because I am someone who was born and raised in the Excelsior neighborhood, which has my heart. I’ve been passionate about social equity for all communities since high school.
Question: What is your role on the Youth Commission?
Answer: My role on the Youth Commission is to represent young people and marginalized communities in District 11. Often times the people of District 11 are forgotten, especially young people, queer people, and people of color.
Question: What do you think is the biggest problem youth face?
Answer: There are so many social injustices that all marginalized people face, and this is only intensified among young people. Any and all oppressions are connected with one another, so for me it would be difficult to select just one. However, all of the issues come back to one general theme: inaccessibility. Young people are historically discouraged from entering any spaces, specifically political spaces or areas of great change. On a global scale, we see this magnified. Young people, especially young girls of color, do not have the access to spaces and resources that can best help them and their communities.
Question: What are some of the changes that you want to bring to San Francisco?
Answer: I want to see a change in the way all governments function, especially in such a large, influential city such as San Francisco. I want to see more work in communities and collaborations with community organizations. I want to see more accessibility to opportunities, especially for marginalized communities that do not have equitable representation. Although San Francisco is seen as an extremely progressive city, there are so many issues that all cities across the country still face, such as police brutality and institutional racism. I want San Francisco to have an honest conversation with itself and acknowledge the work that must continue to happen.
Question: What are you most passionate about?
Answer: I am most passionate about self-empowerment and liberation within all marginalized communities. I want all people to feel comfortable and confident in their abilities to pursue whatever their hearts desire. For example, I want my communities to feel like their narratives and experiences don’t define their destiny but rather be something that shapes how they can continue their lives for the better.
Question: What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco? What would you tell our young readers are must do’s, eats, and visits when visiting San Francisco?
Answer: San Francisco is such a beautiful, complex city with such a rich culture that has shaped the progressiveness we see today. My favorite thing about San Francisco is the resilience and the beauty that so many people don’t see, especially people who haven’t lived here for such a long time. I don’t have a specific place in mind, but my advice is to always try a new place. There are so many gems in this city, and trying them alone is a story.
Question: What do you wish young people knew about San Francisco?
Answer: I want young people to know that the issues we face may be extremely difficult and painful, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do great things. Many ancestors, including my own, have been through so much struggle and barriers in order to truly thrive in this country, but despite them, they were able to contribute to such great change and live wonderful lives. I want young people to know that so many of us are facing so many problems; it can feel like there’s no end in sight, but at the end of the day, we’re going to be alright.
Question: How can young people get involved?
Answer: There’s a misconception that the only way to get involved in social change is to solely pursue politics, and that is not the case. Anything you pursue has room for a social justice goal. Whether you become a sustainable fashion designer, work at a tech company with a social justice emphasis, or learn about your ancestor’s history … all of those are inherited political acts. My advice would be to start learning about your history and what your ancestors did, and then you will be able to continue their legacy.