My name is Robert Shine and I grew up in a regular family in Portland, went to public school, and took various classes after school. But I was always concerned about social injustice, racial inequality, and other disadvantages to minorities.
A key moment in my history was my mother’s deportation. In my 15 years, I started fighting for my mother’s rights and decided to join a team of people who helped create and distribute the documentary “Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth.”
These organizations tend to bring together undocumented people, immigrants, indigenous people, LGBTQ people, gang-affected people, and people with HIV. Also people of color, people with health problems, foster people, homeless and incarcerated people, people who were in, home abuse, sexual assault and violence, teenage parents, and their allies.
So I decided to dedicate my life to fighting for immigrants and social justice because I always wanted a better world for my parents, my children, and my community: a world where all people live life without fear and those around them are treated equally and with respect.
In 2011, I was one of the first team members of a big project to help people. I continued to inspire young people to make radical changes in themselves and other activities as a coordinator and youth coach.
I ended up focusing on the issue of social injustice. Social Justice Wrestler or Social Justice Warrior is a pejorative term for someone who preaches socially progressive views while aggressively advocating them. The main goal of SJWs is the ideological defense of oppressed social groups, including LGBT people, people with physical features or physical appearance that differs from accepted standards, people with chronic illnesses, and mental disorders.
The term first appeared on Twitter in 2012, after which its connotation changed from predominantly positive to extremely negative.
Now all my life I am involved in all kinds of organizations, events, and meetings to improve people’s lives.
My core values are:
- Vulnerability as strength;
- Deep relationships;
- Switching Power.
I believe I have a better chance of succeeding, realizing my power, and becoming a social justice leader when I have opportunities to help people:
- Heal from trauma – personal, intergenerational, and historical;
- Experience joy;
- To spend time in a space where everyone can truly be themselves with all of our identities;
- To feel a sense of community and belonging;
- To connect their struggles with systems of oppression such as white supremacy, racism, heterosexism, transphobia, rape culture, colonization, and capitalism;
- Act collectively;
- To feel a sense of free will (the belief that everyone can set a goal and achieve it);
- Communicate and understand people with diverse backgrounds and communities;
- Learn and practice leadership skills;
- See how struggle and liberation are connected, learn how important voices and stories are;
- Making decisions in your life and community;
- Transforming institutions and systems to genuinely respect and support the youth of color.
In 2017, my activities were at their peak, and I participated in many events during that year. For example, I was among the people who went to the Oregon Students of Color Conference – important because for many young people this is their first visit to campus and the conference, and even more important that young people of color are in a space specifically designed for students of color.
I also had time to participate in the year-round leadership development group Reproductive Justice Advocates for Youth (RJYA) and Advocates for Education for Youth! It helped pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which increases access to reproductive health care for undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ people, and low-income people. He helped pass the HB2845 exam, which will get Ethnic Studies into all Oregon K-12 schools by 2020.
Plus, I had time to attend an undocumented youth rally in front of Portland Immigration Customs Enforcement with over 40 people in attendance and 6 undocumented youth sharing their demands and vision for change. The rally was covered by at least 4 publications, including one very popular one in the world. Despite all my busyness, I also participated in more than 40 training and attended more than 10 courses and events.
According to some of the interviews in which I have participated, we can identify the most popular questions:
- Why is youth-led social justice important?
Youth-led social justice is so important because when everyone gives youth the tools and opportunities for leadership, they expand the scope of liberation. The energy and innovation that our youth provide are vital to social justice movements and allows them to expand their reach. In addition, as some of the most vulnerable members of society, all youth represent a different perspective on our shared reality.
- What social justice issues are close to your heart?
Black lives matter, domestic violence, gentrification, mass incarceration. Racial justice, immigrant/refugee rights, international solidarity are just a few, but everything else is just as important.
I find these three things particularly close to my heart and, rather, the reason why I do the work I do is because I am internally connected to them.
- What do you like to do for self-care?
Spending time with loved ones, writing, reading, and doing karaoke!
- What is your favorite core value in life?
Vulnerability as strength! As someone who grew up with the belief that strength suppresses your emotions, I’ve come to learn and appreciate vulnerability. While it can be uncomfortable when we become vulnerable to ourselves and each other, we create an opportunity for self-development.