Youth Organizing and Social Justice

Ron Dwyer-Voss
Ron Dwyer-Voss
@ron-dwyer-voss
8 years ago
48 posts

Social Justice Youth Organizing develops youth by seeing them not only as assets but also as actors capable of transforming their own environments, especially repressive aspects of their environment, and not simply developing resiliency & resistance to it. It emphasizes the importance of fostering young peoples ability to understand and act upon the larger social forces that affect their lives and their communities. The results of this type of youth organizing are powerful

  • Youth transform relationships in the community by sharing power with adults.
  • Development of pride in self-identity/life-purpose; ability to identify with others with similar interests.
  • Development of sense of belonging to something bigger than self.
  • Refraining from behaviors that contribute to oppression of others (from use of slurs to buying sweatshop shoes).
  • Capacity to change and involve oneself in transformation of self and community.
  • Development of recruitment, strategic planning and communication skills.
  • Enhanced awareness of and ability to cultivate personal safety.
  • Increased access to the networks, ideas and experiences that build individual and collective capacity to pursue social justice

So what is happening in your community that is developing youth, and the community, in this way? What youth work activities might be transformed into more powerful social justice youth organizing work? What is in the way of that happening?

This conclusion come from summaries of research by Ginwright and Erbstein.


updated by @ron-dwyer-voss: 04/29/19 11:47:47PM
April Doner
April Doner
@april-doner
8 years ago
50 posts

What I see so far happening in my community (at this moment, in my sphere) is a mural project that's been geared toward youth but is open to people of all ages. There's high school kids as well as older 20-something youth, on up to adults in their 40's and older. Together we're learning about art technique as it relates to making a giant mural on the side of a police station, and pretty soon we'll get into the actual composition. (I'm excited to grapple together with questions already put out there--how do we represent the local community around this location when we are but a small segment, some of us not from here? What kind of message do we want to convey?) This learning and thinking and doing together as equals creates a lovely space and reminds me how much I don't end up being around people much younger than myself in my everyday life, and how much I miss that kind of interaction.

How this particular activity might be transformed into more powerful social justice youth organizing work? If the conversation was connected to the concept of making change in other spheres perhaps, or if it became a starting point for youth and others to think forward to what kind of art we could create together that could help achieve a shared vision we have for our community? What's in the way of that happening... is perhaps most participants' being used to following the lead of the activity organizer--whether we're coming there from high-school which is hyper-programmed-by-adults (usually) or from organizations where we might have some more freedom to help shape a collective process, but aren't accustomed to transferring that way of thinking into a more ambiguous community setting (and so, we too end up following primarily the lead of the facilitator).. and, of course, there's the way the program itself is shaped, by the facilitator and perhaps influenced by whoever's paying him...

Good question. Eager to hear others' experiences and insights.

Thanks Ron!

(What are YOUR answers? I always love hearing your own stories of youth engagement.)

-April

Ron Dwyer-Voss
Ron Dwyer-Voss
@ron-dwyer-voss
8 years ago
48 posts

Great stuff Myesha! I really like the blog.Especially like their reflections on their experience testifying at Air Resources Board? What impact do you think their participation had on them, now that it is a year later?

Ron Dwyer-Voss
Ron Dwyer-Voss
@ron-dwyer-voss
8 years ago
48 posts
Hey April! Check out the youth voices blog in Myesha Williams' post below. It would be fascinating and probably empowering for participants in the mural project to share their experiences throughout the process.
charles esibikhwa edward
charles esibikhwa edward
@charles-esibikhwa-edward
4 years ago
16 posts

whenever i come across a heading about youth and organizing i feel like am part of that.and i have just been caught up with what you have posted here Ron,i have gone through it and i feel like you have exhausted almost every knowledge that is needed when it comes to youth and organizing and the result that comes out of that.i started a small group of young people so that they could change their life and i have seen this work wonders and currently i can see us headed to the are you have just mentioned above.mostly on self reliance as young people.8_discussions.jpg?width=500

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