There is a storm brewing in our nation. A flood of racism and hatred is inundating our social media timelines—forcing us to create personal “umbrellas” as shields from the daily deluge of prejudice, inequity and injustice. But through these winds of change there are glimmers of sunshine. The rain is washing away long-standing ignorance of the debilitating policies and laws that fail our communities. The relentless downpours are watering seeds of strength and strategy, and fostering coalition building of revolutionaries, organizers and freedom fighters. Young people are paying attention, taking notes and working toward a forecast of brighter days ahead.
More and more, we hear the term “systemic racism” without really understanding how it affects so many facets of our lives. What exactly is systemic racism anyway? The members of My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper Youth Council define it as: “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 levels. Said policies prevent oppressed groups from accessing equal/equitable institutions such as education, healthcare, justice, housing and economic improvements.” How concerned should we be about systemic racism? The answer is: you should be very, very concerned.
That is why it has been inspiring to see so many people on the front lines participating in nonviolent demonstrations and marches, sometimes kettled into barricades or unlawfully arrested. With eyes wide open, they stand on the pulpit of progression and push forward carrying our forefathers’ spirit of freedom. Calling for reform to eradicate unjust policies and practices in criminal justice, education, immigration, gender equity, environmental justice, accessibility and LGBTQ+ rights, young people are prepared to get into what the late John Lewis called good and necessary trouble.” They are taking over the streets, bridges and highways in NYC, Kentucky, Minneapolis and across the globe.
Simply put, they are Shutting. It. Down.
The increased visibility of national and global events has helped expose systematic racism, forcing the world to take notice and stand in solidarity against it. Now is the time to amplify your voices, question the status quo and not accept the toxicity of systemic racism. Refuse to carry on with business as usual. We are all the designers of a blueprint for a better tomorrow, and we will combat the barriers of oppression that stand in the way of justice for all.
Youth Town Hall Video
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Civilian Complaint Review Board - CCRB
CUNY School of Professional Studies
CEC– Civic Engagement Commission
Henry Street Settlement
Intergenerational Change Initiative
NYC Action Lab
Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA)
The Peoples Forum
Red Hook Youth Initiative