202016Jun

Michelle Xiong: Gomes didn’t tell the whole story in his op-ed

Re “Confrontation not in best interest of our young people” (Page 9A, June 11): In his column last week, Merced County Superintendent of Schools Steven Gomes failed to provide a proper overview of Building Healthy Communities and the work it’s doing to strengthen the Merced Youth Council. Though thoughtfully researched, his column represents a distorted view of what the community is saying and does not address the need for young people to be empowered to make change in Merced.
Gomes offered his own approach for constructing the Youth Council, which was disingenuous and dismissive of his own agency while critical of community members who courageously expressed their concerns and interests. We organize in rallies and marches because we no longer want to be silenced. Even when we fill city chambers we are invisible! We must be loud to be seen.
Gomes talked about the benefits of collaboration, but ignored the fact that we’ve followed city procedures. We’ve researched budgets, met with council members and staff and provided extensive materials for the development of an effective Youth Council. We have been includsive of different voices, but city leadership repeatedly made decisions that fail to reflect the community’s input.
So let’s keep the conversation focused and be accurate with the information we share.
MICHELLE XIONG, MERCED
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