META organizers strive to create space for BIPOC in Twin Cities

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META organizers strive to create space for BIPOC in Twin Cities

META. META founders, Winfrey Oenga, Ana Keller-Flores, Ijeoma Ugboajah, Sara Flores, Britney Chino, and Miski Omar gather for a photo. “META started this past summer after I and a few other friends who were all a part of a different youth organization came together and realized [that] organization, while being a great segue to being involved in our community, wasn’t directly going after the things we wanted,” co-founder Britney Chino said.

META. META founders, Winfrey Oenga, Ana Keller-Flores, Ijeoma Ugboajah, Sara Flores, Britney Chino, and Miski Omar gather for a photo. “META started this past summer after I and a few other friends who were all a part of a different youth organization came together and realized [that] organization, while being a great segue to being involved in our community, wasn’t directly going after the things we wanted,” co-founder Britney Chino said.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY: Britney Chino

META. META founders, Winfrey Oenga, Ana Keller-Flores, Ijeoma Ugboajah, Sara Flores, Britney Chino, and Miski Omar gather for a photo. “META started this past summer after I and a few other friends who were all a part of a different youth organization came together and realized [that] organization, while being a great segue to being involved in our community, wasn’t directly going after the things we wanted,” co-founder Britney Chino said.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY: Britney Chino

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY: Britney Chino

META. META founders, Winfrey Oenga, Ana Keller-Flores, Ijeoma Ugboajah, Sara Flores, Britney Chino, and Miski Omar gather for a photo. “META started this past summer after I and a few other friends who were all a part of a different youth organization came together and realized [that] organization, while being a great segue to being involved in our community, wasn’t directly going after the things we wanted,” co-founder Britney Chino said.

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Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the Twin Cities have a new way to connect with one another, through a new group, META. META is an affinity space for BIPOC in the Twin Cities started by seven students in August. Inver Hills Community College freshman Britney Chino is one of the group’s seven founders.

“META is an organization for BIPOC to help their communities, themselves, and their families. META started this past summer after I and a few other friends who were all a part of a different youth organization came together and realized [that] organization, while being a great segue to being involved in our community, wasn’t directly going after the things we wanted,” she said.

One of the main changes from the previous organization to META is that META is an affinity group.

“META’s main goal is to be the organization that people go to when they need help. In essence, a mutual aid organization. We don’t want to wait for a politician to finally pass some progressive legislation, or pray that our favored politician wins an election; we want to take the power into our own hands and lift [and] empower our own communities from the structural oppression they face on a daily basis,” Chino said.

Winfrey Oenga, a recent high school graduate is another founder of the organization. Oenga sees META as a way to work towards liberation.

“META started with a question, which was: why haven’t we [people of color] been given the roles of organizing actions, educating, and planning events related to social/environmental justice issues… Why are we being facilitated by white people rather than people of color?” Oenga said.

Junior Karla Garcia heard about the group on Instagram and through friends.

[We talked about] why it’s important for us to have a safe space.”

— Karla Garcia

“So I got there with another friend from school, and there was food, a lot of different people, and we showed up and we did some go arounds, and talked about who we are and why it’s important for us to have a safe space. Then we talked about why this group began, why it’s important to have spaces like this, what the group wants to do, their mission… and the plans for the year and moving forward,” Garcia said.

Oenga described what she personally hopes for META: “My goal for META is for us Black and Brown bodies to network, combine resources to pour freedom, love, power pride, equality and strength throughout communities and to the world. I want META to be a movement, and even powerful [just] in existence.”

What pushed Garcia to go to the first META meeting was a search for more places she could connect with other people of color.

“I really enjoyed SDLC last year and [META] seemed kind of like [SDLC]. SPA has affinity groups but more spaces with other students of color is something that is really important to me. So I was like ‘let’s do it’ because it sounds really fun and like another safe space [to] get to know people [with] the same experiences as me,” Garcia said.

She finds spaces like these vital and feels that students of color at SPA don’t get to experience this kind of environment enough.

“It’s important for people to be able to have a space with people that have a lot of things in common with them and [who have] a lot of experiences that are the same… I feel like at SPA, there’s a lack of that, especially for students of color. I think it’s also a good place to just be… Your true authentic self,” Garcia said.

This lack of spaces for BIPOC, and more specifically spaces for BIPOC lead by BIPOC, is a problem Chino sees nationwide.

“META is an important space because to my knowledge, there isn’t a very big organization that is dedicated to and ran by BIPOC youth. This unprecedented space is a need in every state across the nation. We hope to grow big enough to influence other states into having their own mutual aid organization run by and for BIPOC,” Chino said.

Oenga also sees a future full of opportunity for META.

“META is not just an organization, but a future and endless support system of community, it is an organization focused on the goal of creating liberation for all BIPOC, to open endless opportunities to all BIPOC. This is a space where you can depend on people and come to for empowerment, love, healing, to be a part of a change in the way we view America today, to build strength in our community,” Oenga said, “META is also such an important space, because growing up being surrounded by BIPOC has truly inspired me and made me push myself to be stronger and better for my community.”

This is only the beginning for META. As the organization continues to grow, there are many ways supporters can contribute. Supporters are encouraged to follow their account @metaliberation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and donate to their GoFundMe which is linked in their Instagram bio. META is a grassroots organization so donations are key to the organization continuing. One of the most important ways allies can support META is spreading the word so anyone who identifies as BIPOC has the opportunity to be a part of this organization.

“Bring your siblings, cousins, neighbors, anyone. We are all in this fight together so we need anyone with a genuine vision and passion to uplift and empower our communities,” Chino said.

This article was originally published in the November print issue of The Rubicon.

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