Scholar Q & A: Rickke Mananzala, Jonathan D. Lewis Point Scholar

Point Scholar Rickke MananzalaRickke Mananzala was born in Oakland, California to a military family and was raised in a number of different states. After being kicked out of his home at the age of 16 for being queer, he quickly pieced together a new adult life on his own. He moved to New York and became involved with a number of organizations working on racial, economic, and gender justice issues. Most recently he was the Executive Director of FIERCE, an organization building the leadership and power of LGBTQ youth of color. Mananzala is currently majoring in Politice Science at Columbia University, School of General Studies.  

Point:  What course(s) at school have you taken recently that you really liked and why?

My favorite course since returning to school in 2011 is, by far, Political Movements in the Middle East and North Africa taught by Professor Mona El-Ghobashy. Professor El-Ghobashy is less interested in our ability to memorize terms and more interested in her students engaging with the complicated elements of social movements. Clearly the topic of the class is very timely with the unfolding of the Arab Spring protests demanding democracy and freedoms. Since these demonstrations are still relatively new, there are so many questions to explore about how these movements took root and where they are headed. But they are really inspiring.

Point:  What is your Community Service Project this year and how is it coming along?

My project is helping to develop a national LGBTQ youth organizing toolkit with FIERCE, the organization where I worked for seven years before returning to school.  My project addresses the lack of resources and support for LGBTQ youth of color — particularly youth organizing that exists outside of the high school/college setting.  The objective is to produce a comprehensive LGBTQ youth organizing toolkit covering political education topics, including the history of the LGBTQ movement and other social movements, as well as organizing topics on how to develop a youth-led advocacy campaign.

Point: What is on the horizon for you in 2013 regarding your work as an activist?

Over the past two years I have facilitated the North Star Fund’s Movement Leadership Program where I worked with 10 powerful grassroots organizations.  I created the curriculum and facilitated trainings to help these organizations expand their membership bases, grow new grassroots leaders, and develop more strategic campaigns. I’m really excited because I’m about to help launch the third year of the yearlong program, with more organizations working in communities of color and low-income communities in New York City.

Point: What do you do to relax and for fun?

Point Scholar Rickke Mananzala CrossFit

I’m in school full-time and working close to full-time, so I split up my free time across a few things that help me sustain my school work and activism. I’ve been doing CrossFit since 2008, and I like it because you’re never doing the same thing every day. It’s done in an encouraging, group class environment and I often meet nice, new people in the classes. I’m also a foodie. I love cooking and checking out the endless options of great restaurants in NYC. Another hobby of mine is fishing.

This post was written by Rickke Mananzala
Rickke hopes to help strengthen marginalized communities by providing research, advocacy and campaign strategy support to grassroots organizations. Rickke and his older sister are both returning to school at the same time hoping to be the first people in their family to graduate from college. Learn more about Rickke.