Representing The Future Is Now: As Seen Through Our Black And Brown Youth

Posted by knetzler on Mar 28, 2018

by Jeremiah Chapman | March 26, 2018 

Now, more than ever, we must encourage youth to step into leadership. This is the way to cultivate power in our communities that need their voices heard.

I had the opportunity to attend the Youth Action Summit (YAS18) in Memphis, Tennessee, hosted by BRIDGES, an organization that supports students in opportunities to find their voice. This “unconference” brought together a group of vibrant high schoolers ready to expand their networks, building bridges between themselves to create social progress. In the wake of Parkland and the powerful March for our Lives this weekend, we have seen the movement when students come together and get national attention for demanding change. This is another example of young people taking agency over their futures.

Two students in particular had a resounding impact on me. At the beginning of YAS18, I was looking to get more information on where I’d be presenting, and that’s when I heard the hallway erupt in laughter. Down the hallway, I saw a group of students approaching, deep in conversation. Spotting my curiosity, they immediately became organizers and recruited me into their group. They explained they represented Community Coalition in South Central Los Angeles and were focused on fostering Black & Brown unity. Edna identified as an indigenous woman of Guatemala, while Omarion sported a “Save Black Boys” hoodie and was unapologetically Black – both cited mass incarceration as a common ground issue to organize around.

You will recognize Edna as one of the impactful speakers who shared her story and struggle at Washington D.C.’s March for Our Lives. She described her brother dying as a victim of the every day gun violence in her neighborhood, “I learned how to duck from bullets before I learned how to read.” She also described how policing schools results in the criminalization of black and brown students in their own education systems.

Read the rest of Jeremiah’s story YAS 2018 on The Center For Community Change’s blog.