We Fight To Win
Inequality and the Politics of Youth Activism
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Series: Series in Childhood Studies
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First and foremost, I would like to thank Youth Power and Students Rise Up, two teen activist networks who granted me access to youth movements and to the lives of adolescent political organizers. The youth activists and adult allies who I came to know during this experience have changed me forever. They are among the most gifted educators I have ever met....
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In February of 2003, mainstream media outlets covered the massive and simultaneous antiwar protests that shook hundreds of cities across the world. Activists from almost every corner of the earth marched in the streets, numbering in the millions, to protest the impending invasion of Iraq. Although the sixties are often identified as an apex of political...
1: The Development of Urban Teenage Activism: Opportunities and Challenges at the Turn of the Millennium
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One day, sixteen-year-old YP student organizer Salvador and I roamed around East Oakland on city bus after city bus, trying to find local restaurants that might be willing to donate food to Youth Power. That day, Salvador told me this story of his lone attempt to access the highest executive power in the United States:...
2: Reading, Writing, and Radicalism: The Politics of Youth Activism on School Grounds
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What happens when youth try to tackle social justice issues and organize other students on school territory? Before SRU and YP youth activists eventually coalesced with larger social movements in their communities, they first attempted to politicize the social and academic elements of their schools. Just as labor activists start organizing in their workplaces, youth...
3: Allies Within and Without: Navigating the Terrain of Adult-Dominated Community Politics
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When students begin to organize beyond their schools and in their larger communities, they struggle to find their place in local social movements. In doing so, they reflect on their unique position as youth in adult-dominated community politics and develop politicized frameworks for understanding ageism. Both YP and SRU organized outside of schools because, first and...
4: Toward Youth Political Power in Oakland: The Adult Gaze, Academic Achievement, and the Struggle for Political Legitimacy
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I am attending a YP weekend retreat in a large, log cabin in the woods about seventy miles outside of Oakland. We have been driving in vans for hours just to get here, crisscrossing freeways and negotiating the tangled mess of stop-and-go traffic rushing in and out of the Bay Area. Finally, the cityscapes give way to rolling hills, and we arrive. The students are giddy...
5: Toward Youth Political Power in Portland: The Adult Gaze, Mainstream Media, and the Problems of Social Visibility
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It was not lost on SRU youth that there were moments of irony about the adult gaze, which filtered through adult-dominated media, schools, police, and even social movement networks. Although these activists often criticized this gaze for infantilizing them as serious organizers and dismissing their political aims and capabilities, they also noticed that this infantilization...
6: Gendering Political Power: Gender Politics in Youth Activist Networks
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By the early summer of 2003, the SRU network had begun to fracture because of internal struggles over how to project the groups’ aims, identity, and political visions to multiple adult publics. This struggle was due in large part to these young activists’ overreliance on mainstream media, whose contours refused to recognize their political outrage or their critique...
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In the two years I spent with YP and SRU activists, I witnessed their challenges, successes, and defeats. Anchored in larger historical and contemporary movements, YP organizers in Oakland fundamentally changed their school landscapes: at some schools they successfully instituted youth centers that provided a proyouth, empowering respite from their defeating...
Appendix: Entering the Worlds of Youth Activism
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I first came across Students Rise Up on a rainy October day in 2002, at one of the first of many peace rallies before the start of the war in Iraq the following March. Gathered with hundreds of people in Pioneer Courthouse Square in the center of Downtown Portland, SRU teens huddled under a huge banner that read, “Students Rise Up.” I approached one of them, Curt, a tall guy with long hair. I explained to him that I...
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Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Series in Childhood Studies