Meet Cyanne Rangel, an amazing young woman from LA who’s found her passion for politics and community action through her participation with Action Civics LA (an initiative of Mikva Challenge in Southern California).
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello, my name is Cyanne Rangel. I am 16 and currently a junior at Felicitas y Gonzalo Mendez High School. I am very passionate about politics involving my neighborhood of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, especially the displacement of residents in my neighborhood because of gentrification.
And what about your Action Civics LA experience? What has that been like?
I have been working with Action Civics LA for about a year now. I first participated in an essay contest on youth involvement in politics, which gave me the amazing opportunity to fly out to Des Moines, Iowa, to campaign at the caucus in January. Going on the trip was such an eye-opener for me because it was my first time taking action in politics. I never believed I would be able to have a voice in politics before the Mikva Challenge because of my age.
During the trip I campaigned for Bernie Sanders, visited rallies, went to the capitol building to meet with a Democratic and Republican representative, participated in a workshop on youth activism, and attended a youth summit at Drake University. The Mikva Challenge did not only give me an opportunity to inform myself on politics, but also meet other students across the country who are interested in politics as well. Listening to my peers give amazing speeches as well as simply engaging in political conversations made me realize how the issues that face my community affect many others in America. The friendships I have made with people on the trip as well as meeting others with similar and different views is an experience I will forever cherish.
After the trip, I participated in my school-wide Project Soapbox organized by Action Civics LA and went into the final round at my school. Project Soapbox gave me an opportunity to speak on gentrification, an issue that causes many residents in Boyle Heights to worry about losing their homes due to an increase in rent. Then I attended the Los Angeles youth summit and heard students’ empowering speeches on immigration, technology, violence, and college affordability. Most recently, I had the chance to attend and speak at The Aspen Institute Latino and Society Program’s, 2016 America’s Future Summit, where I met local political organizations, political figures, and activists.
What’s a favorite memory or funny story you have from participating in ACLA?
I have many fond memories working with ACLA but my favorite memory was attending the Aspen Institute dinner the day before the America’s Future Summit. I just remember being seated in a small table with a bunch of adults, feeling a bit nervous to talk, but by the end of the night, I had the best conversations with others who strongly take action in politics. The interest shown in the people that night on my political views made me realize how important youth involvement in politics is.
How has your experience with ACLA informed who you are today?
My experiences with ACLA has not only greatly informed me on politics, but has given me the confidence to speak openly on my views and inform others in my community as well. ACLA opened doors I never thought of when it came to politics. I have met so many influential beings and heard so many different stories and issues that inspire me to take further action in politics in the future. Before ACLA, I never thought much about politics but this past year has influenced my political views and involvement.
What advice do you have for people who believe their voice isn’t important enough to make a difference?
Everyone’s voice matters! We live in a nation where we can freely express our opinions without worries unlike other countries — it is a right we fortunately have, so do not be afraid. Something as small as campaigning for your favored candidate or giving a speech in public can make a difference. One needs to remember that there are many others doing the same thing throughout America, one is a small piece of a bigger movement. Especially youth, we are the future of America. The decisions currently being made for the nation should constantly be a topic of interest. Youth action is needed to ensure the wellbeing of the country over time. If we do not speak for ourselves then how will we make changes before it is too late and we have to deal with unjust policies of our predecessors?
What are you up to now?
I recently was involved with my school walkout in November shortly after the elections to speak on the Democratic National Convention, as well as support my community to speak on immigration, which affects many friends and peers at school. I plan to continuously advocate youth involvement in politics for the next few years to encourage all my peers who want change for the better, to take action and strive to make a difference in the nation.
Photos credit: Regina Zamarripa