By CALUM WOLFE-THOMPSON, age 10
Make the Road is an organization based in New York City that is rooted in Latino and working class communities. Together they strive to build the power and raise the voices of community members in order to solve problems and create social change. IndyKids Kid Reporter, Calum Wolfe-Thompson, had the opportunity to interview Deborah Axt, the Co-Executive Director of Make the Road, New York (MRNY).
Calum Wolfe-Thompson: What does Make the Road do?
Deborah Axt: It is a community organization. It helps to make its members become more powerful in the community and helps pass new laws that make things better for poor people.
CWT: Why is it called “Make the Road?”
DA: It is from a poem in Spanish that goes “Traveler, there is no road; we make the road by walking.”
CWT: What do you do there?
DA: The co-executive directors raise money and make sure everyone who works there does well.
CWT: What are some of the issues you are working on now?
DA: A lot of things. We advocate for an increase in income for low-wage workers, the establishment of a car wash workers’ union, comprehensive immigration reform and an end to stop-and-frisk practices by the New York City police.
CWT: How are kids affected by the current immigration laws?
DA: Kids whose parents are immigrants sometimes don’t live with their parents because they are left home in their country while the parent works and sends money home. Some kids who are in the United States get left home alone because their parents can’t afford child care.
CWT: What is Stop and Frisk and how does it affect kids?
DA: Stop and Frisk is a practice in which police stop people, including many teenagers, on the street and check them for drugs or guns by making them stand against a wall while the police rub their clothes and go through their wallets. Many teens, especially in Bushwick where Make the Road does a lot of work, are afraid that the police will stop them and that they may get hit or arrested if they complain.
CWT: How can kids get involved in these issues and help?
DA: They can write articles in newspapers, like Indie Kids and Make the Road’s newspaper, Word on the Street. Kids can also help organize and participate in rallies, and they can think about making laws to improve the lives of kids in poor neighborhoods.