Monday, May 9, 2011

You Cannot Take This From Us

*Warning-for those of you who are offended, this blog entry does consist of a 16 year old using some language that would be found in a PG13 movie. I assure you that if felt any weaker about this the language would be gone.*

I'm reading about the bus pass debacle and taking them away from teens. The idea. Pisses. Me. Off.

You see, as teens, we are an undermined society. We are ignored often, and when people consider us, it's when they want to bitch about us or verbally crucify the whole generation as a whole. You often hear stories about how teens screwed up royally (I love how people bitch less about Charlie Sheen getting prostitutes, screwing his family up, doing drugs and drinking and being in total madness and denial about it than they do about so and so teen personality getting pregnant by accident.) We are categorized entirely as a generation who doesn't give a tenpenny fuck about tomorrow, their family or others; just getting drunk, high and pregnant. Guys are douchebags and girls are whores. It may not be that 'out there' blatant as that but media is pretty much subtly doing that with shows on The CW where 20 somethings play slutty teens partying. And if I see one more commercial where the teenager does nothing but smart off behind a phone, I'm going to break my TV with an axe. I'm sorry if this offends you, but this is me being perfectly frank about it.

Apart from that, no one cares. You'll see in the news about how a teen drove his parents' car into the lake right next to the house (read as-entirely a family situation) blasted out to half the nation as, if I were a conspiracy theorist, propaganda on how useless and scourge teens are, but you don't oft hear anything about teens doing good. Pretty much every teen I know is tons different than what people assume of us. In my community center, there's just such a tightknit community of intelligent, funny, caring people. And it's not a Portland thing; over the internet I've met some of the most incredible people I've ever seen; remarkable, talented artists and people who will treat you like they've known you all their life. It's just stunning.

And I'd like to state, first, that the Youth Pass program was never suggested by a council of lawmakers or politicians. The only reason it even started is because of the Multnomah Youth Commission, a group of teenagers who care about the city and work on a commission with a direct line of advisor to the mayor. I met them once repping for the Mt. Scott Teen Force, and my friend Daniel is a member of the group.

They're the ones who put all the hard work into the campaign. They didn't stop at the limited version (Jefferson and Franklin only or people who had limited income or lived basically next door to school), they got the commissions and board with actual power to approve it and they, to quote PPS transportation director Andy Liebengurth, "Really Spearheaded the whole thing." You see, politicians don't really know what it's like to travel across town on the bus every day and have to pay for it, and most of the time not have any other option because they can't drive, or to have to pay for it every day. But the teens did. And they spoke up. And by God, people listened.

And now, it seems, the adults who didn't really know as much, caught on. And now they're going to try to put a stop to it.

The person who's considering ending the Portland Public School Youth Pass program is State Rep. Tobais Reed... who lives in BEAVERTON. He states that it needs to be "More important than days of school." Dude. Without this, a crapton of people won't be GETTING to school. Did you think of that? I know things are nicer in Beaverton, but spend a few days in Creston or Lents and say with a straight face that people don't 'need' this. Or, maybe, try taking the bus.

Katherine Westmoreland of the MYC says it best- "I think it’d be taken a lot more seriously if it was 13,000 voters that were going to have free bus passes taken away." Precisely. The people trying to take this away from us aren't going to hear us because when they put it to vote- guess what? Teens don't get to vote. We don't have a choice. That brings the question- why can't we vote? Because all hell would break loose if we let those goddamned weed-smoking drunk uncaring texting Bieber-loving teens out on the polls and gave them an ounce of control on the nation? By your theory, if we don't care as the general teen public... open the polls! The supposed few that care would have a miniscule voice and the worthless ones wouldn't bother cos they're too busy watching "Friday." But, hey, we care. Let us have a voice, or at listen to the quiet one we have now.

It all comes down to getting people to HEAR us and UNDERSTAND us. And I don't even get a free bus pass; I'm homeschooled. It's hard for us to pay for a bus pass. With our financial situation, my family can't afford it and I take my $60 dollar monthly OPAL check and pay for the $26 dollar bus pass. Add in a $25 dollar phone bill and I get a grand total of $9 bucks to spend throughout the month. Which is pretty much emergency funds, so, yeah, I got zilch. I've almost finished my schooling so there's no getting one now. I think there may be some financial solutions on the horizon but until then, yeah, I got nothing.

And that's going to be the case for teens in the city if we take this away; just another huge gape in either their wallets or their parents. For low-income people, it's just not going to work. People aren't as eager to take them away from businesses, so why from schools?

If you truly care, you will not take this from us. Especially when we got no choice in the matter.


  1. Thoughtful piece, as usual, Cameron. Unfortunately, people are eager to take them away from businesses, too! From what I'm hearing, the free school passes may be in a bit less danger than the 30% subsidy on workplace passes.

    I'm not sure Read is the right guy to vilify; my impression is that he's not a transit opponent, just a guy dealing with a lot of requests for money. I think it's hard to count votes on this stuff, since BETC (the tax credit program that pays for the school and workplace passes) seems to be throwing everything in one big pot.

    Then again, maybe I'm biased, because Read was actually classy enough to call me back. :)

  2. I couldn't have said it better, Cameron. I am only 15. Teenagers simply have no right, no voice, and no say in anything that happens to them or around them. The stereotype of teens clouds over everyone's vision of how people really are.

  3. Adri, I had no clue you were a teenager.

    That is so cool! Here I was thinking I was alone. XD

  4. I'm by no means a teenager anymore, but this pisses me off too. I remember full well getting screwed day in and day out when I was a teenager. The thought was I couldn't "do" what "grown ups do" and thus was discriminated against for it. Add to that the notion of energy and music I liked - and I was screwed.

    The only difference though between now and then is I shaved my head - but I still have that energy and listen to that evil music but I'm older. I'm still pissed off and frustrated with how the "general mass of adults" behaves in this regard and many others toward teenagers.

    There should be vastly MORE enabling opportunities for teenagers - and hell - young people in general! You guys have more energy, more motive, more aptitude to do things at that age than the vast majority of adult society.

    I digress, I could bitch and gripe all day. But either way, you can count on me to debate through whatever topic and go to bat with you against the city or society in general.