Youth and Racism
Youth and racism are wound together, depending on each other to unravel the pain, hurt and despicable enduring nature of racism. Being “against racism” is to be against any system based on some kind of supremacy, including white supremacy, racial supremacy of any kind, tribal supremacy, class supremacy, even male and female chauvinism. Young people are taking power action against racism and making their communities more powerful, empowering places for all people to live in.
Washing ones hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. — Paulo Freire
Ways Youth are Changing the World focusing on Racism
Youth-Led Activism — When adults won’t partner with young people or when young people want to take immediate action without permission, they can lead their own community organizing projects and rallying their peers to create change, or take action on their own. Picketing, sit-ins, boycotts and social media action are just some of the ways youth-led activism can affect racism.
Service Learning — Studying the social effects of racism, young people are building communities through service learning. Programs focused on white privilege, empowering communities of color and more can teach students about racism in distinctly effective ways. When facilitated effectively, service learning encourages students to apply their learning throughout their lives.
Youth and Incarceration — Young people are challenging the school-to-prison pipeline, long-term incarceration, incarcerating youth with adults, and solitary confinement within prisons, all wrapped together with analysis focused on the disproportionate incarceration of people of color. Youth and incarceration shouldn’t be synonymous, and youth can change the world when they focus on ending the racism which makes this happen.
Things Youth Need to Change the World focusing on Racism
Education — Learning about the history of racism isn’t enough. Young people need to understand their role in white privilege and racism, whether they’re people of color or white. Learning how to see privilege, dismantle white supremacy, overcome structural racism and fight against dominant cultural norms is essential, too.
Youth/Adult Partnerships — Creating intentional relationships designed to foster trust, communication, mutual investment and meaningful involvement can effectively engage youth in changing the world focused on racism. Young people can transform communities and organizations through youth/adult partnerships, increasing effective action and building support along the way.
Opportunities — Young people need substantive opportunities to take action against racism. Schools, neighborhood groups, nonprofits, government agencies and other organizations can create opportunities. Young people can create their own opportunities through youth-led community organizing and youth-led programs, too.
- Black Lives Matter
- Youth Activism in an Era of Education Inequity by Ben Kirshner
- Changing the Rules of the Game: Youth Development & Structural Racism. by J. Quiroz-Martínez, Daniel HoSang & L. Villarosa for the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity.
- “The Disruptors” by CNN
- “The Other Student Activists” by Melinda D. Anderson for The Atlantic
- “Black Students’ Lives Matter: Building the school-to-justice pipeline” by Rethinking Schools
- “To Sustain Black Lives Matter Movement, Younger and Older Activists Need to Learn From Each Other” by Yanique Dawkins for Atlanta Blackstar
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in public health through your community or organization, contact us.