I was so nervous — but I spoke anyway. Here’s how to support youth leaders like me right now

by | May 22, 2024

In early 2021, Chevron spilled hundreds of gallons of oil into the bay from their Richmond refinery – right on the waterfront, near where teenagers like me swim every day.

When I heard the news, I was horrified. How could a company worth hundreds of billions of dollars put our health in danger by allowing something like this to happen?

Last year, an APEN organizer asked if I would come to a meeting of local air regulators to give a public comment about the spill. I was nervous, but I said yes – because I know that if people like me don’t stand up for our Richmond community, nobody will.

A young Asian person speaks into a loudspeaker in a bus full of other young people

Ally leading a Toxic Tour for APEN Youth Academy participants this Spring. Photo by Denny Khamphanthong.

I felt extremely nervous when I first gave my public comment. Public speaking was out of my comfort zone — when I first joined APEN a couple of years earlier, I was really shy, and would get scared just when saying my name at check-ins at member meetings. Chevron had sent their spokesperson to speak at the meeting, and I listened nervously as she twisted the truth, lied and made excuses for their negligence.

But when I started listing out all of the horrible things Chevron has done to our community and never been held accountable for, I started to feel angry, and it felt important and empowering to have my voice heard. In that moment, I knew: together, we are more powerful than Chevron. We just have to get organized and lift our voices together.

This is the core of what APEN does, and why we need your support today. I am proud to be an APEN youth leader, because we are actively fighting for a just transition for a cleaner, healthier, and safer Richmond. From the beginning, APEN invested in building the power of the youth and community here in Richmond — and now, APEN needs our support.

One of the best ways to support APEN is by becoming a monthly donor. Monthly donors give APEN regular income that makes a real difference. 

Will you join me in celebrating APEN’s 30th anniversary and standing with our community in Richmond by becoming an APEN monthly donor today?

It’s APEN’s birthday! We’re hosting a festive night market in Downtown Oakland on July 20, and we’d love to see you there.

Click here to save your spot.