The Youth Town Hall series is to develop the Youth agenda to inform policy, practice and programs that engage and/or are created to support young people.
Systemic Racism is the systemic design of public and private policies in government or private institutions to oppress a group of people, through the creation of policies on the local, state, and federal level, said policies prevent oppressed groups from accessing equal/equitable institutions such as education, healthcare, justice, housing, and economic improvements. All other priorities intersect with systemic racism because it is the foundation upon which this country was built and impacts every aspect of life.
A good education serves as the first foundation for growth and healthy development. Learning and fair distribution of resources in schools will help bridge the gap between marginalized groups and the rest of society. It will give them increased opportunities for professional development and provide them the skills and qualifications they will need to succeed in the modern economy. Through good educational systems, youths will be prepared to carry the torch from previous generations and make decisions that resolve the plethora of issues present in this age and better the world. The youth deserve the chance to contribute to and improve their community.
Policing/ Community Safety
Community Safety is the decrease in gun violence, the absence of unforgivable murders and assault of innocent people. It’s well-lit sidewalks at night, it is feeling safe when you see NYPD. Community Safety looks like children playing in the park without fear, neighbors looking out for each other, paved streets. Thriving small businesses and markets full of healthy foods. Schools without metal detectors and resources readily available for youth and their families. Everyone has a different perspective and needs when it comes to safety, the most important part of it is ensuring that we put UNITY back in commUNITY, to create safe and brave spaces for all.
The objective of civic education is to encourage youths to participate in the political process and to engage in issues that affect them and their community. Civic education will help the youths make more informed decisions about politics, increase voter turnout in the 18-24 age groups, and encourage more youth to actively take lead on issues impacting their communities by contesting for office or starting movements or rallies around a cause.
The youth around NYC need to be employed because it will help them develop certain skills that will help them in their adulthood. Especially in such a populated city, it is hard to get really good jobs with so much competition and so much favoritism towards certain communities over others. By properly employing youth at the right age, they can learn the necessary skills to obtain other jobs and present themselves properly. One example includes the Summer Youth Employment Program, which conducts a random lottery from applicants around the city between the ages of 16 and 24. Programs like these should be more common since they are unbiased towards economic status and race. In addition, youth employment can help a lot of small businesses around the city, since many of them are seeking workers as fast as possible to keep their business afloat.
Health & Wellbeing
Prior to COVID-19, most youths were already dealing with mental health issues, but because of the stigma against mental health and lack of accessible resources, we couldn’t seek help. Most youths suffer alone in silence. COVID-19 policies such as school closures, non-essential businesses, and lockdowns forced youths into isolation worsening our mental health. Most youths now suffer from major depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Suicide rates amongst youths have increased, for example, there have been three suicides amongst youths at the Vessel. Youths are suffering, we need help. Funds should be allocated to create resources for mental health amongst youth in schools and outside of schools and there should be a platform that educates and spreads awareness on mental health amongst youths. Great mental health is vital for leading a great life. Youths cannot succeed in academic, social, and personal life efficiently if they continue to struggle with mental health issues. As future leaders of our community, we deserve a society that caters to our mental health.
Community and Housing
The zip code you live in decides your outcome in life. That is a famous expression that is unfortunately true all over the world, but it hits home particularly in neighborhoods around NYC. NYC is one of the top urban centers in the world with a lot of opportunities and resources, however, those resources are not evenly distributed among all neighborhoods and while some neighborhoods in NYC thrive, others are ranked at the bottom of the list, depending on the statistic, in the nation. Youth need better communities/housing to gain access and proximity to resources that will better their lives and propel intergenerational mobility, allow them to live happily, healthily, safely, and comfortably in their neighborhoods because the conditions of a neighborhood impacts all these things, it is the best way to ensure that race and income disparities reduce over time, and it will leave the youth, not just those that are privileged, well positioned to engender change and resolve issues experienced by previous generations.
Gender Justice the systemic redistribution of power, opportunities(resources), and access for all marginalized people. We must dismantle the harmful structures of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and patriarchy that have stifled the freedom for people to be who they choose to be, where they want to work, how much they are compensated, and where they can live safely without the burden of bigotry and inequality. Gender Justice signifies the inter-sectional approach that centers the needs and experiences of communities affected by discrimination and oppression because of their gender or perceived gender identity.
Gender justice: is …being treated fairly
The impact of COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted low-income youth of color. The pandemic left an already disenfranchised group with fewer resources for their education, access to health and mental health services, a place to call home, and employment options. The digital divide and remote learning increased the loss in learning as young people were unmotivated and overwhelmed by the intersectional inequalities of race and class that emerged in their communities and at home. The home was not always a safe place for all young people as seclusion led to abuse and neglect, leaving young people with nowhere to go for refuge. In homes where parents and caregivers experienced setbacks of their own, young people stepped in to support siblings and family members as their households struggled to maintain a sense of normalcy. Unemployment and job scarcity left many young people and their families struggling to make ends meet. With less access to healthy foods, restrictions of going outside young people’s overall health deteriorated. Young people mourned the loss of family, watched as small businesses in their communities closed down, and all the while, even with all the odds stacked against them, stood up to social injustice and are emerging as resilient leaders and change-makers.