AMINA HENDERSON

Southwest Organizing Projet

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.33.23 PM.png

CHICAGO LAWN

In an effort to resolve a misunderstanding with students I agreed to participate in a talking circle. During the process, I became frustrated and needed a break. When I got up to leave, I was blocked by a security guard. I tried to push him out of the way and the next thing I knew two other security guards pushed me up against the chalk board and handcuffed me. I was arrested and waited for five hours in my school’s detainment room before I was transferred to the juvenile detention center. The charges were eventually dropped, but I was suspended for three days. It was an overly harsh response to a minor issue that should have been dealt with in the school. It was a very stressful experience and it disrupted my education.

"Advocating for the bill was an empowering experience for me and other black and brown young people; I felt that our voices mattered."

I learned that many of my peers had also been arrested and suspended for minor issues. I realized that this was a much bigger problem, and I wanted to do something to solve it. I joined Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) and Voices for Youth Chicago Education’s (VOYCE) campaign to end punitive school discipline policies. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.33.36 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 3.34.07 PM.png

I, along with many other young people, successfully advocated for the passage of Senate Bill 100, groundbreaking legislation that limits the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for disciplinary purposes.  Advocating for the bill was an empowering experience for me and other black and brown young people; I felt that our voices mattered. As leader with SWOP and VOYCE, I will continue to mobilize with young people to advocate for legislation that limits the use of punitive discipline policies in schools.