Interview with Oklahoma Youth Coalition
We're so super stoked to present our interview with Oklahoma Youth Coalition! OYC is a bipartisan organization dedicated to upping youth involvement - plus education - in Oklahoma's political system. Oh, and it's completely run by young people. Check out our interview with them below!
Before we get started, be sure to follow follow follow OYC on Instagram.
Thanks to Kyndall Tenace from our Editorial Team for conducting this interview!
KT: What actions is the OYC taking within the local community to increase youth involvement and education in the Oklahoma state system?
OYC: Currently, since we are still starting out we are handling a lot of the internal issues that we still have. However, in the next coming months we plan to have town hall and coffee shop events where you can sit down with a local leader, representatives, and Senators. Our leadership in the organization is still learning about the political system as well, and we feel that to be a great benefit and think this can be a great attraction because most people in organizations have been active for a while now, while our members have only been active for a few weeks. This coming Saturday, a few colleagues within the program will be heading down to Oklahoma City to meet with some delegates and representatives to introduce the [Oklahoma Youth Coalition] to them.
KT: Does the OYC feel it is important for young people to form their own opinions on the countries current social-political standings? Why or why not?
OYC: Socially, the nation has changed. In regards to Oklahoma, it's unfortunate that many people choose their political party based upon what their family has believed for a very long time and not necessarily what they as individuals believe. “Grandfather Stories” have been passed down through generations painting either Democrats or Republicans as evil, when that is not true. It is very important to get out and form your own opinions, especially if we want to have a future government that is willing to hear both sides and be bipartisan and open. Foremost, it is important to start forming your own opinions specifically during the formative high school years when individuals are thinking about what they want to do with their lives in the future.
KT: Define the term “bipartisan” in application to the OYC.
OYC: Most organizations in Oklahoma claim to be bipartisan, but if you truly look at their core leadership, their viewpoints either lean on the hard-core conservative side or the hard-core liberal side. Something unique about our organization’s leadership is that we actually held elections to decide our vice presidential team, and we are one of the only organizations in the state that does that, thus letting our delegate team have a choice in the matter. While both of the OYC’s presidents are conservative, we have two vice presidents that consider themselves to be conservative and liberal, respectively. Additionally, when you really get down into the overall beliefs of our delegate team it truly is like a jungle, filled with varying opinions. We believe that having that diverse aspect of belief not only in regard to social and economic issues, but anything really, allows us to reach more people. We don’t intend to push legislation or anything like that, but want to help individuals get involved in the political system regardless of party.
KT: How do you feel you can create a strong sense of community, and truly connecting people to Oklahoma Youth Coalition?
OYC: Oklahoma is definitely considered a “fly-over state”, whether it be culturally or politically. For the electoral college, we have seven votes and they always go Republican so no one is really focused on Oklahoma in that sense. The state has a population of almost four million, so it really isn’t huge in regards to occupancy in addition to politically. One thing we feel could help, is instilling an aspect of state pride. While a state flag may not be considered very significant, the symbolism behind it is, because it truly does instill a sense of pride in the residents by cultivating a sense of community.
KT: Reading/Watching the news (through a platform like theCramm) is arguably one of the most valuable sources available to becoming an informed citizen. What current or highly publicized news story does the OYC feel to resonate most with its cause?
OYC: Right now, it seems like everything on the news is about the recent mass shootings. In specific regards to the events that happened in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, we see a lot of youth taking sides on whether they do or do not support gun control. This is where we believe that individuals need to be aware of their sources of information and open themselves up to understanding both sides of the gun control debate to truly find out what is going on and form beliefs.
KT: There is enormous power and strength in fighting for what you believe, whether it be as small as posting on social media or as large as marching on Washington. What is one way the OYC feels kids not only in Oklahoma, but all over the country, could advocate for their opinions?
OYC: Most people in America, teenagers especially, have cell phones. On the internet, you have unlimited resources and can reach thousands if not millions of people. While you may not have the means to go to the state capitol, you can still make your voice heard through text messages or social media. As long as it is online, you can really make your voice heard and help start a movement. That is why right now we are really focusing on our social media presence, because we understand that not everybody is going to be able to attend our events, but we still want them to be involved. In this day and age, it is easier for organizations to draw people in over the internet/social media than in person through events, which is why we strive to achieve a combination of both.
KT: theCramm’s readers come from all over the world. Provide three facts about Oklahoma, so that our audience may better envision what makes it unique.
OYC: Sure. To start [Oklahoma] is a majority Conservative state, so there are very few non/bi-partisan organizations in the state so that is something that we plan to help tackle as a Coalition. Secondly, if you look at Oklahoma City the demographic is slowly changing. For example, they had a Republican representative for 45 years and now in 2018, a Democrat won that seat by 2%. To end, the Oklahoma youth is not very politically active, but there are a lot of teenagers that want to get involved but don't have the knowledge on how to do so. This is something the OYC plans to resolve.
Answers modified for clarity.