Resources to Help Empower Youth Voice on Race and Social Justice
Youth Voice and Safe Spaces
Youth Voice and Safe Spaces are important aspects in healing. Obtaining youth voice creates safe spaces for youth and helps develop youth by seeing them not only as assets but also as agents capable of transforming systems and other toxic environments, not simply developing resilience and resistance to them. Below are some things to consider in youth empowerment and obtaining youth voice:
Be an Ally
Adults should see themselves as adult allies collaborating with youth. This means they help facilitate conversations or support youth leaders/organizers in facilitating conversations.
Support youth in examining how to contest, challenge, respond to, and negotiate the use and misuse of power in their lives. This also includes developing skills to analyze systems of power: developing the capacity to critically analyze their world through political and education methods and learning to conduct action research, analyze social structures, and propose policy solutions.
Remember as adult allies we must be mindful that youth must be given the support to deﬁne their own problems and ﬁnd their own solutions. So Listen. We don’t need to have all the answers.
Accepting students where they are emotionally is very important. This supports providing safe space, making sure students know that they are welcomed as they are. Acceptance also includes understanding youth culture, and supporting youth however they identify.
As adult allies, we can incorporate youth culture by supporting young people in making the decision about what gets done, by whom, and how, adults are creating environments that authentically reﬂect the needs of young people. Youth culture has been effective at communicating messages that promote social justice. It can be thought of as a set of ideas and a common worldview shared by most young people
Inequality is linked to identity, and as a result, identity is often the starting point for youth. Identities are complex ways that young people (and adults) identify themselves, as well as how they are seen by the larger society. For example, women, people of color, undocumented and poor and gay youth often bear the brunt of social inequality. However, it is that same social inequality that brings together young people who have a shared identity to ﬁght for social change. Safe spaces, allows for youth to express themselves and how they identify, and will also acknowledge the shared feelings and experiences that will bring together a sense of belonging and community.
Resources to Support Youth
Teacher Tolerance Learning Plans: lessons for teachers around social justice and youth development, there are short articles to support student learning around issues concerning race, and shares a variety of activities to support in dialogue and encourage critical thinking students.