Hakim Sutherland: YAC Sit-in, T Riders Union Intern

July 7, 2014

Hakim at the Sit-in for Opportuni(T)

I’m from Boston. I like to make music, I like to draw, I like bike riding and enjoying the city. I got involved with ACE when REEP Director Dave Jenkins was teaching a history class at my high school when I was a freshman. I asked my teacher about a picture on the wall of teens rallying – there were three REEPers, one holding a bullhorn, and I was like, what is that? She said Dave was there at the rally and introduced me and I became a youth organizer.

I’ve been working on the Youth Pass ever since I was involved with REEP. I worked on the Youth Way campaign for one year before I co-founded Grow or Die, and now I’m adult support and alumni with the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC). I’ve been heavily involved in the past year and my favorite part is the creativity behind the campaign. It’s so open that it allows youth to express themselves the way that they want to.

The major thing I felt during the sit-in was frustration, particularly with Richard Davey and MassDOT as a whole and how they fail to address the problem, the youth rider crisis. There’s a lot of youth out there that, number one, don’t have access to the BPS student pass. And number two, they don’t have the opportunity to get a monthly or a weekly pass, so a lot of youth are still pushed out. Especially the youth who graduate high school but don’t go to college – those three years before you turn 21 you have to pay $70 a month. And you can only get so much with a high school education, so you don’t make the money to get the pass.

I knew that the sit-in action was going to be powerful, and I wanted the chance to be a part of that. Inside the sit-in, I was excited. I was happy. The most exciting part was chanting right before we got arrested. I was scared I was going to lose my voice. When they arrested us, I was laughing.

Now, we need to keep applying pressure. If we won youth transit justice, youth wouldn’t be getting kicked off the T. More youth would come out and explore the city more, which would open up more opportunities for them and make our city a better place in general.