Grad Profile: Arinay (Peaches) Perez '13

Peaches is a City School grad from 2013 who returned as an Emerging Leader during the school year of '13-14 and in summer '14. She is currently one of the Lead Organizers in Training of the Youth Justice and Power Union, a youth-led organizing group focused on increasing youth jobs funding and youth power in the city. 

What is your favorite memory of The City School?

I'd have to say my favorite memory of TCS was my first day volunteering here. Everybody was just welcoming and mad nice. I remember getting invited to a workshop on the prison industrial complex with Ziquelle and Nate. Sitting in on that workshop, getting educated on stuff that I had no idea was happening, something that school didn't teach me at all. Once that day was over, all of you all said, "Come back here tomorrow!" It was cool. It's an open space to anyone - anyone could just walk in, sit down with a group and do whatever.

How have you changed since your first summer at SLP?

Wow, I've changed a lot. I learned how to become a leader in the right way. I learned how to motivate other youth to try to become leaders also and try to get into SLP. I've tried to run workshops by myself. Personally I gained more patience, because working with a whole bunch of youth the same age as you isn't easy, but once you learn how to tolerate it, it's interesting! I gained patience, tolerance and now I'm trying to run my own organization (Youth Justice and Power Union), trying to kick the adults out!

How have you continued working for social justice beyond SLP?

Youth Justice and Power Union (YJPU)! The City School teaches you about what happens with thegovernment, what happens in prisons, while YJPU is doing events to try to change that, to get what we need and deserve. We teach youth out there in the community; I know plenty of youth who pop up at the event saying "Oh, I don't know that." It's all connected in some type of way.

What are your plans for the future?

Take over the world. [laughs]. To continue working for social justice, and combining social justice into work that you wouldn't even think would connect, like auto mechanics. Having a social justice organization doing auto mechanic stuff, which no one would think connects, but I'll make them connect. And getting youth from all the different communities and outreaching to them. 

If you could have coffee with one social justice activist, who would it be and why?

Assata. Cause she's just amazing. She has the government watching her every single move, because they're so afraid of her and they knowthe power that she has. If I could just talk to her and meet her, it'd be amazing. She's just a dominant woman of color, and I love that.