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by Fredericka Bryant

Overall the USSF youth workshops clearly prove that the youth movement is growing stronger because of the passionate youth activist fight for Social Justice, Environmental Justice, Reproductive rights, and Criminal Justice issues. More youth are getting involved in the legislative process to gain a voice in government. More youth groups are tackling social justice issues through the arts: Poetry, theater, music, dance, and digital story telling.

Most youth workshops were geared towards methods for promoting awareness, to get more youth to get involved  and to connect up and push an agenda for effective messaging.

At most of youth workshops I participated youth spoke about common issues in low-income communities of color such as violence increase, lack of education, decrease in youth jobs, not enough recreation centers, too much discussion around abstinence and not enough advocacy around safe sex and how to use a condom. These issues are important because they keep manifesting for years with no justice. The only way to fight these symptoms of a lazy government is the youth movement because this will be an ongoing fight for equality.

Workshop profiles:

Youth Power: Creating Change through Effective Political Participation

The purpose of this workshop was to show youth how to get their demands met by pressuring the political process through local government and state legislature.

REJN (Regional Economic Justice Network) sponsored Yo-ti (Youth Organizing Training Institute) so that the youth could help lead the workshop.

The workshop was lead by youth and adults from the organization.

In the workshop everyone had to share concerns about their community and ideas on how to make our communities a better place and craft a political agenda and demand based on your community. The workshop used popular education format, including music, small group discussion, role plays, and interactive presentations.

In the beginning of the workshop one of the adult speakers gave an overview about political participation stating that it’s about, “Pulling resources together and getting some benefit from decisions made in the political system.”

The executive Director gave a very brief overview of US history letting everyone in the workshop know that all the forms of power in the political system are methods to getting people out of our political system especially people of color such as voter restriction laws.

After speaking and hearing loads of information from the youth and adults leading the workshop we broke up into small groups to answer three questions in report back.


What issue of concern do you have in your community?

What would like to see done about the issue?

Why is youth voice important?


The most common issues youth shared were:

Not enough recreation centers enters in their communities

Violence rate constantly raising

High drop out rates

Teen STD rate rising

To much discussion on absentness and not enough focus on getting teens aware of using protection

Transportation Issues, not enough bus routes and timing advantage

Drop out rates raising due to state examination to exit high school killing momentum to continue school-Internalized Oppression

Affordable housing was a major concern connecting to gentrification

Reproductive Justice Rights among young women

Too many youth being tracked into prison system


Most of the youth in the workshop were from the south and Midwestern states.

I think most low-income communities of color can I identify with all of these problems because Cities like Oakland, Richmond and East Palo Alto have the same issues.


After discussing these issues we posted them upon a wall in different categories like such as Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice, Health, Education, Negative Media, and ECT. Then we discussed them as a group and told facilitators different Strategies to getting our demands met.

Ways to get your demands met:

Form a relationship with your local government

Write letters to your state legislature

Bring representatives on tours in your home town

Get community of youth involved by doing grassroots lobbying

Have elect official that will create a change in your community

After all of the discussion on how to get your demands met, we broke back up into groups in choice a category that we could apply a 15 minutes skit to with any scenario. I chose environment of course and we continue to brainstorm ideas for the play that we were going to put on for four representatives coming from Mississippi, unfortunely I didn’t get to finish the play the next day because I didn’t feel like I could gain anything more from that workshop and acting really isn’t my thing.

Note: When dealing with city officials or legislatures there should be a common language, clear objectives, foundation, and community participation on board.

If you would like to know more about this workshop tactics, strategies or just more about the organization here is the contact information:

Main website, Email:

Or Contact the Executive Director Ms. Leah Wise.



Right to the city: Building a national movement against displacement and gentrification.

Organization: Tenants and workers united.

Workshop Description: This workshop focused on gentrification which was defined by facilitators as, “Money is invested, neighborhoods improved, richer people move in and poor people get displaced-Homeless.”

They gave a brief breakdown on the stages of gentrification and how they take place in our communities:

    Strong Public Sector- identifying all of the things that constitute a sustainable        

    Community which is having good schools, infrastructure, and revitalizing the

    Community. All of these things take away from federal money which prevents      

    Our infrastructure from strengthen or gain power to fucture as a sustainable   


Criminalizations of poverty-Youth hanging on the corner are being punished because there isn’t money being invested into school programs that provide service and recreation to the youth.

Industrial sector- exported jobs to get cheaper labor benefiting corporate to reap from the system of modern day slavery.

Privatization- Pushing us out to the next town to get things that should be provided in our communities and globalizing everything instead of letting communities of color benefit from local economy.
Shrinking middle class- gaps are now being growing between the poor and The rich.

      Forces behind gentrification- neo- liberalism which is the exploitation of our

      Nations people and our shared environment by wealthier and more powerful

      Nations can grow but not the people.


      Activity- Identifying How the 19th Century Developed:

      Quick History- Oppressive form of creating profit. Public housing was built as 

      Technology was advanced they figured they could now out source jobs out

       Side of the USA.

       How did out sourcing impact workers?

       Workers lost there jobs and capitalist started to benefit from cheap labor.


      Exploited relationships between global south (slavery) and north (Europeans

      Western nations that oppressed people).


      South: Sole natural resources and people to build and develop infrastructure

      In southern societies.

      North: Raw materials were brought which created factory jobs, steel and text

      During the 1920 worker movement, gaining secure rights, 40hour pay,

      Minimum wage working condition, ECT.


      Our countries are now identified as,” Global Cities meaning media firms, law

      Firms and realastate, needing people of color to service global cities.


      Neo-Liberalism is now the dominate force in our cities.

      How do we manage to stop capitalism? Fighting together for change and

      Putting forward a vision.


     Notes: Last we discussed work sheets on rights that your city is entitled to as       

     Spectators of the earth.


     Notes: Most people in this workshop were from New York, Washington D.C.

     And San Francisco Asian Community.


Promoting Black Environment though and Action. Organization: AfroEco.


     Workshop Description: This workshop talked about the different problems

     Impacting the black community and the decrease of African Americans in the      

     Agriculture due to their lost of connection to land. Everyone introduced them   

     Selves and there Connection to the land.


     Workshop Exercise: The facilitator drew a large foot and asked everyone to

     Shout out problems (Feet on our backs) in the black community.

Air pollution


Not enough recycling

Dumping trash in other communities

Prison system

Bio-Tech Industry


     Black radical tradition-relationship to the land.


   Workshop Discussion: Support litigation and looking at what else can be done  To stop the genocide of blacks in farming.


    Another workshop Exercise: what our future looks like



African American hatred toward farming because of lost connection to the land due to slavery.

Strains from the land

Food Justice Connection

Agro business globally, neo-liberalism

Black urban planning.

Stocks that can’t reproduce so that we produce genetic and motility consumed things.

Group vision ten years from now:

Community gardens ran by youth


School lunches

Local Energy Production

Using Less Paper

Hybrid Cars

Education Partnership

Pass down generation

Own your own waste and don’t dump in other cities

Connection between communities, resources, coalitions and alliances.

89% of the county slum




Building power from the ground up: Statewide strategies to achieve Environment Justice.

Organization: Tenants and workers united.


Workshop Description: How the community is impacting public policy. Three different organizations spoke about their own personal EJ victories and gave advice on how to tackle your own EJ in your community.


Groups: CBE, Environmental Health Coalition and ACE, and Apen.


These groups discussed and told stories of meetings with representatives, Victories and getting recommendation put into policy.


Apen- Talked gave an overview defining Environmental Justice and what it means to grassroots network. Also getting environmental Justice drafted into policy.


ACE- Youth from their organization presented the background information on who they are and the victories they have accomplished within the last past year. The youth mostly advocate for Transit Justice (transit equality) and Lawyer services to youth who don’t know the laws.

Students from ACE defined Environmental Justice as, “Getting equality for your community.” Ace talked about the toxic tours the give in there community. Reap (Building membership in Boston) is also in partnership with ace working with almost 93 different group on campaigns such as poverty, homelessness, and EJ n Boston.

Victories: Getting youth jobs in Boston to decrease the violence rate. Ace have 4 different bills right now that are in the legislative process and another bill that geared towards making all trucks get retrofitting to stop diesel emissions with consequence of being fined if you have a truck that isn’t retrofitted after a certain amount of time.


Group Discussion: How do you get people to our in push for legislation?

Create local opp. With representatives

Pilot projects in local communities

Stable infrastructure in your organization

Bring state representative to your hometown

Connect with member based organizations

Multi-issue group, every yr. They pick one or two issues

Financial practice of stability

Lobbying as a form of direct action


Long term strategy & tactic (Key, Money):


-Youth doing surveys and listening to people

- Community Workshop

- Providing Resources

- Community Btw. Lobby, Legislation and local support

- Work with radical groups

- Leadership training (Speak the language of policy)

- Having the bite (Represent a lot of the voter)

- Legislation training, identifying supportive legislative

- Legal groups

-Join sustainable coalitions