Naudika W. was born in Oakland but spent much of her childhood living with her grandmother in Pacifica. As a mixed-race kid in a relatively affluent town with a tiny black population, she grew accustomed to what it felt like to be noticeably different from the people around her.
“I was one of the poor black kids living with a bunch of wealthy white kids,” she remembers.
When she moved back to Oakland around 7th grade, she also grew increasingly aware of the stark educational disparities that exist between wealthier, mostly white communities and poorer communities of color.
“In Pacifica, everyone believed in me. Everyone knew they were going to go to college,” said Naudika, who recently graduated from Oakland High School. “And I remember coming to Oakland, a lot of students were like: ‘We’re going to drop out, we’re not going to make it.’
“I started to learn that school is not set up for everyone to succeed.”
In high school, Naudika was surrounded by other people of color, and began having conversations with her peers and investigating the impact of racial and educational inequalities. She also got involved with a local social justice group called Californians for Justice and devoted an increasingly large amount of time and energy to fighting for equality and inspiring her classmates to do the same.
“I guess activism was my way to connect back to my identity,” she said.
Hear her inspiring story in the video above,
This video is part of “Stepping Up,” a short video series featuring four impressive young people working for real change in their communities and explaining what sparked them to action. Watch all four videos here.
To find these students, searched across the Bay Area, looking for a diverse array of young activists representing different cities and different perspectives who had inspiring stories.
AND we want to hear from you! Let us know if you have a story to share. Are you a young person who’s passionate about a social or political issue and taken action? Or do you know some who fits that description? Submit your video, audio or written piece to KQED Education’s Fall Youth Media Challenge. Go here for submission guidelines.