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MIMI ZEKARYAS, 17

Mimi Zekaryas is a junior at University Prep High School in Seattle, Washington. She has a passion for poetry and podcast production, and utilizes both platforms to help bring awareness to different social justice issues. Zekaryas produced three podcasts while interning at RadioActive, a youth-focused program with NPR’s affiliate radio station, KUOW, one of which aired on the radio (KUOW 94.9). She was interviewed on Seattle’s King5 news station about her podcasts’ focus on implicit bias, colorism, and her aunt’s experience with sexism while fighting in the Eritrean-Ethiopian war.

Zekaryas is currently working on a podcast on how climate change is affecting Native American communities. She has worked to make authentic connections with various tribal leaders and members, and hopes to continue building these relationships throughout the year. She leads her school's Y.A.R.D club, (Youth Against Racial Discrimination), and is a member of a facilitators club, where Zekaryas helps facilitate conversations about important issues in the community.

Currently, Zekaryas is dedicated to reading a variety of diverse books, with the intention of applying this new found knowledge to her podcasting production and poetry. She plans to attend university and working to minimize inequity in the educational system.

 


The South End

by Mimi Zekaryas

As a kid, I was taught to be grateful to live in North Seattle

And I could never imagine living in the south end

Driving South on I-5 I realized why my family moved to Shoreline

I noticed that as we went further south,

buildings became shorter and older

Factories replaced office buildings,

cargo trains replaced trees,

grocery outlets replaced whole foods

and people of color replaced the whites, that I saw in my North Seattle neighborhood

Visiting family or going to church in the south end, I remember telling my mom “it's so depressing here”

But it is okay, because that thought would disappear as soon as I entered the car to go back home

The issues that my family and friends faced in the south end, left my mind as I drove

North, for they were no longer mine.

Since then, I have learned,

It is easy to determine what is unjust and unfair

But it is difficult to connect with issues and understand perspectives,

When they are not in relevance to your life, however to others these issues are omnipresent

They can seem small, irrelevant, and just a part of history

And you may not know how to help, because they are not in your ministry

But it is worse to let an issue go ignored

Than to sound ignorant talking about it

Because then it can be discussed and explored

And the more we learn, the closer we get to finding its core

Every year the issues of South Seattle have seemed to be getting closer and closer

Becoming more and more “pressing”,

But I have not moved from my north Seattle home

Instead, I learned and I grew,

I listened and I interviewed

Visited and experienced,

To get a taste of what my friends and family in South Seattle go through

In 9th grade, I was a part of a school swap, with Rainier Beach High school

I was excited because I missed the crowded hallways, smelly lunchrooms and the colorful vibes of a public school

But, Rainier Beach was different from anything I ever knew

The old building had old pipes that contaminated the water Fountains with lead

Cockroaches, rats and black mold

Infested the school that had not been reconstructed, since 1962

The hallways were poorly lit, and students told me about all the spoiled food in the lunchroom


As I walked through the halls of Beach I was shook

In an area that is overpoliced and underfunded

The majority black school was struggling,

And no one around me is talking about it

And as the kids from Beach walked through the halls of my school

I heard sighs and comments of envy

Uprep was new, clean and did not have any funding problems,

They were in awe, of this wealthy school that cost more than some colleges

I have noticed in my majority white school and community

People pick and choose what about Rainier Beach they want to see

To many, Rainier Beach is its’ basketball team

It's “ghetto” loud kids who are made “comedy”

And the issues of it being underfunded are

Looked over and ignored.

Conversations with kids at Uprep have made me realize

That as a school we need to learn more about how to empathize,

We need to start leaving our communities

To interact and learn with students from schools around us,

To learn about, and advocate for education and environmental justice