Hi everyone! I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself since you will be hearing from me a lot as we continue to build our healthy community! My name is Christal West, and I was born and raised in Oak Park and graduated from Sacramento High School in 2005. I recently moved to Fruitridge Manor after graduating from the University of California, Davis with degrees in Chicana/o Studies, African/ African-American Studies and a minor in Social and Ethnic Relations.
At the age of 16 is when I really began my activism and thinking critically about why my community had to endure so many hardships. Why were my friends often victims and (sometimes) perpetrators of violence? Why did so many of us who were born with such light within us begin to experience the dimming of our inner flame as we grew older? Why did my community feel so abandoned and unsafe? Why was my family always struggling? What caused this? I didn’t intend on going to the university. I had no plans. But someone (my Folklorico instructor) invested in me and pushed me to see my potential. I used that guidance to build the foundation of my studies. From the moment I began school, every move I made was with the intention of building a toolkit to bring back to my community.
My passion is my community, every aspect of it. I manifest my passion for my community through my love of culture, arts, mental health and education. Many of us who were born and/or raised in “the ‘hood” live with open wounds that were inflicted upon us by various socio economic factors and sometimes we never realize how hurt we are because we are functioning in “survival mode.” These wounds leave us with questions as to why we experience life the way we do. I believe in the transformative power and healing that “creating” and sharing knowledge about the relationship between self and the community can bring. I am a huge advocate of youth mentorship but believe that it is possible to develop leadership skills no matter your age or ability. Most of all, I believe that building a healthy community begins with you and me, right here, right now. I look forward to working with all of you and am excited to be putting my little “toolkit” to work!