From Ferguson to Parkland, youth around the country are rising up to demand an end to gun violence, criminalization, and the senseless killing of their peers by a system of oppression that they will no longer tolerate. Today, many of us join them in a powerful March for Our Lives to say #NeverAgain to the powers that be.
Throughout history, youth have always been on the front lines of movements for radical change, from Civil Rights and Vietnam to Occupy and Black Lives Matter. It is the youth who have the imagination to see beyond the roles society imposes on them, the tenacity to take to the streets, and the faith to pursue a vision that many would consider impossible to enact.
Empowering those who have not yet been blinded by the war economy is our best hope for the future, but unfortunately, our society pushes a comprehensive program of control over young people. Parenting often turns from care to overprotectiveness, and schools force students to submit to authority figures who determine success through arbitrary standardized tests and send “rebellious” youth down the prison pipeline.
Even though I’m relatively young (I’m 27), I can see that the high school and college youth are miles ahead of me in their understanding of everything from the gender spectrum to intersectionality. At the same time, I recognize my egoic tendency to believe I know more than them because I’m older. Working with youth in a horizontal relationship that combines the best of imagination and experience is a balance I want to always strive towards.
Today, as we honor the courage and vision of the young people leading us into the streets, reflect on what your own relationship to youth is like. How are you supporting their vision for a more beautiful world of peace and justice?