Image by Rebecca Pelvin
“Skin color should not be deciding factor of success” Originally Posted by Rebecca Plevin – Vida en el Valle (Published Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 11:38AM)
ccording to the statistics, Miguel Bibanco should not have been testifying in the state Capitol last Wednesday afternoon before the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color in California.
According to the statistics, Bibanco — who was born in México and raised by a single mother in Fresno and other agricultural communities across the San Joaquín Valley — should have struggled to make it through high school. According to the numbers, he could have easily landed in a juvenile facility or prison.
Instead, 17-year-old Bibanco, who will be a senior at Edison High School, was one of a handful of youth who provided powerful commentary during the final hearing of the committee, which was formed to address serious disparities in health, wealth, education and opportunities among the state’s young men of color.
He spoke a few minutes after Sarah Reyes, Central Valley program manager for The California Endowment, framed the disparities for the committee: “It is a health issue, in our opinion, when we in California graduate more young men and boys of color with GEDs in state prison, than we do in our public high schools,” she said.
“In our opinion, it is a health issue in California, and for California, when we incarcerate more young men and boys of color than we enroll in our institutions of higher learning.”
For Bibanco, the three-minute testimony was likely the climax of an exciting day dedicated to raising the voice of the state’s underserved young men of color.
“We still need more help for our young men and boys of color,” Bibanco said at the conclusion of his testimony. “It’s not just us in Fresno that needs this help — the story is the same in places all over California.”
Bibanco didn’t travel to Sacramento to buck the statistics.
He went to the Capitol, he said, to describe the barriers young men of color face in his community — and especially in the schools.
Last Wednesday morning, he and four other young men from Fresno first shared their message with Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Visalia. They were among about 100 young men from across the state making legislative visits, on behalf of the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.