CHRISTIAN GREEN, 36, Antelope Valley, He/His/Him, African American/Latino
Christain Green is a sociology professor at Antelope Valley College in Los Angeles County. His path to that post has been long, with him starting off as a child in the county foster care system and later living on the streets of Southern California.
CALÓ NEWS is regularly checking in with Latinos from all walks of life to hear what people have to say about their elected leaders, the upcoming elections and the issues that mean the most to them.
Green, 36, says that life experiences have left him a close follower of local politics and he worries about the outcomes of the looming June primaries and November general elections.
“The biggest issues weigh heavily on my heart, homelessness, foster youth and police reform,” he said, “specifically when it comes to Antelope Valley.” With June’s primary election season looming, followed by November’s general elections, Green says that he is hyper-focused on what will happen with homelessness, foster youth and police reform.
“The police have done a horrible job,” Green said. “There are still killings of young Black and Latino kids.”
He says his college students complain to him on the regular about being mistreated by police officers on the street. He calls on leadership from LAPD and LASD to work harder to improve relations with Latino youth.
“We have this idea that police are supposed to be protecting and serving, we say this all the time,” Green said. “They are supposed to be there to help. You can’t help anybody when you’re looking down on them or when you don’t think of them as human. So there’s a level of humanity that is missing within our policing system, jailing system, corrections system and our probation system. All of them are jacked up.”
Green said that his time in foster care shaped his worldview. He went into foster for the first time as a baby and later returned to the system a couple of times in between stints with relatives. “I’ve lived with folks I knew from church,” he said. “I was homeless for a week. I had to turn myself into the Department of Children and Family Services.”
Approximately 50% of children in the foster care system are Latino in Los Angeles County according to the Los Angeles County department.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION ISSUES?
The judges and Sheriff’s races. Public safety, police reform, jobs, economy, healthcare and education. Right now, I don’t even have healthcare benefits. I can barely even go to the doctor’s office if I need to, so definitely healthcare benefits. And also community engagement, and community involvement. So, making sure that our children have adequate resources to do stuff, whether it’s after school or during the summer. It’s all about community engagement or community involvement.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT LAW ENFORCEMENT IN LA COUNTY?
The police have done a horrible job. When I say that, it’s a variety of things. There are still killings of young Black and Latino kids, and we have also seen the effects of student resource officers on campus, which is highly punitive. They constantly arrest and suspend these kids for small behavioral issues.
HAVE YOU WITNESSED BLACK OR LATINO KIDS BEING HARSHLY TREATED BY POLICE?
There are so many cases that we don’t know about. I get phone calls almost every other day about students having issues with officers or officers mishandling students. At the end of the day, they’re still kids, right? So if we understand the importance of our children’s lives, and we don’t treat them as an adult and take them into adult punitive measures, there’ll be a different outcome. So yes, I have seen it and it needs to change.
HOW DID LOCAL GOVERNMENT HANDLE THE PANDEMIC?
No one knows how to handle a pandemic, so they did the best they could. For me, I’m personally tired of the masks. So, that’s my only pet peeve right now. I think that there could have been a little bit more assistance with rent. I would have liked to see more support as a renter and as a tenant.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IMMIGRATION REFORM?
It should be a top priority. I think immigration is an issue that doesn’t even have to be an issue. Everyone that is [in the U.S] who are immigrants are paying into this economy, working for this economy, paying taxes and doing all this stuff for citizenship. It should not be so hard. And it’s just not fair for immigrants to have such a hard issue with getting their citizenship.
HOW IS LA COUNTY DOING WITH HOMELESSNESS?
They haven’t tackled anything. Nothing. This is still an issue. There is room [for the homeless] with all these [empty] buildings and different initiatives and different homeless shelters. I’m a former foster youth, so our foster youth really need to be at the center of these conversations.
WHAT MORE CAN YOU SAY ABOUT YOUR TIME IN THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM?
I grew up within the foster care system. I’ve lived with folks I knew from church. I was homeless for a week. I had to turn myself into the Department of Children and Family Services. It was like I was in jail or something. That’s when I was 17 years old. Then I had to go to a group home, which also felt like jail. It was a whole experience. The foster care system is really jacked up. It perpetuates homelessness. It perpetuates violence. It perpetuates poverty.