YC Stands with Black Lives Matter
Youth Communication stands in solidarity with the black community and our fellow citizens around the country advocating for justice for George Floyd, and for so many black citizens who have tragically lost their lives at the hands of our police unjustly.
Since 1980, we have been committed to elevating the voices of underrepresented youth. We have the privilege to work with young people from across New York City who bravely write stories about their own lived experiences. These stories inspire their peers and inform the adults who support them. The vast majority of our youth are people of color who experience the systemic racism that has plagued our country for far too long. Their lives matter. Their voices are powerful. And their stories can make a difference.
The events in our country over the past week are enough to make anyone feel despondent. When I watch the news, I am often at a loss for what the path to positive change looks like. However, when I read our writers’ stories, I feel more hopeful. Their unfettered optimism about their power to create real and lasting change is infectious. Our young people’s steadfast belief that a fairer and more just society is possible, and we are all responsible for creating it, compels us to all do the same.
Take Demetria for instance, who writes about becoming an activist through the Black Lives Matter club at her school. She writes, “the Black Lives Matter movement inspires me to use what I have and who I am to make change. In BLM, I can channel my anger and frustration about the horrible things that happen to African-Americans into action and education that can bring about change and inspire others.”
Or Bryant, who wants to be a police officer, but struggles with the racism he personally experiences at the hands of the NYPD—in the same precinct where he serves as a Police Explorer. Bryant shares “I’m a Police Explorer, but I’m also a young black male who could get killed. The feeling I got at [Black Lives Matter] marches was heartache. I couldn’t believe that cops were doing these things.” Like many of our young people, Bryant sees injustice, but feels conflicted because he “decided [he] wanted to become a cop to make things better.” He is determined to improve the world that hasn’t always treated him, or people who look like him, fairly.
Or even Ria, who wrote about why she doesn’t feel as valued as an American because she is black. “I’ve been taught in school that the government is supposed to protect all Americans from harm and guarantee our rights, but black people aren’t treated as fairly as whites in the court system.” Ria, like so many young people, sees the blatant unfairness of our criminal justice system. She doesn’t respond by feeling despondent—she is hopeful that she can impact change: “This may be the world we live in, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept it.”
Several years ago, a group of our writers participated in a Black Lives Matter protest together. Desmin reflected on the experience, saying: “I hope [the protests] help everyone understand that black people should be treated equally and that black is beautiful and that black lives matter.”
I share this hope with Desmin, and with all of you. Each of these writers has a unique perspective, but one thing is true for all of them: they know the world they will inherit must change. We all have a role to play in making their world more just. Paying attention to what they have to say is a good place to start.
This year we will hold our summer writing workshop remotely, under the theme of inequality. Our writers will, no doubt, have much to say about the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, about the protests and our government’s response. I look forward to sharing their stories with you, and to continuing the work together of creating the more just world our young people deserve.