International Youth Day 2019: How Are You Showing Up for Youth?

Founded in 1996, Youth Together has been combatting ethnic and racial issues through building youth leadership for decades. We’ve trained hundreds of young people in grassroots organizing ideology, in developing their personal and professional skills, and built their personal politics by teaching them about their cultural history. The young people in Oakland have pushed amazing change in our city and state, from the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, to YT and affiliated organizations fighting for more school funding through LCFF in 2014. Youth have been the major movers and shakers in creating positive change in our communities, however, many of those same young folks are barred from democratically using their voice in our society.

Young people are the ONLY constituents of the educational system that have no say in the way it’s run. Administrators, teachers, and even parents have the power to vote in policies and politicians, however, our young people, who experience these policies and politicians, are held hostage to their whims. If we look at the state of our schools, it’s obvious that our young people are desperate for change; what’s lacking is our capacity as adults to listen and support them in building their leadership. Youth Together believes that thriving communities equals thriving schools, and vice versa. If we’re going to build strong communities, with students who are politically and economically engaged, then we must make sure that they have opportunities to practice the process, and get supported in learning about how and why things affect them.

It’s important for everyone to ask themselves; how am I showing up for the young people in my community? How am I giving them opportunities to learn, grow, and build community? And ultimately, what am I doing to get the next generation ready to lead?