We Fight to Win: Inequality and the Politics of Youth Activism

We Fight to Win: Inequality and the Politics of Youth Activism

We Fight to Win: Inequality and the Politics of Youth Activism

We Fight to Win: Inequality and the Politics of Youth Activism

Synopsis

In an adult-dominated society, teenagers are often shut out of participation in politics. We Fight to Win offers a compelling account of young people's attempts to get involved in community politics, and documents the battles waged to form youth movements and create social change in schools and neighborhoods.

Hava Rachel Gordon compares the struggles and successes of two very different youth movements: a mostly white, middle-class youth activist network in Portland, Oregon, and a working-class network of minority youth in Oakland, California. She examines how these young activists navigate schools, families, community organizations, and the mainstream media, and employ a variety of strategies to make their voices heard on some of today's most pressing issues- war, school funding, the environmental crisis, the prison industrial complex, standardized testing, corporate accountability, and educational reform. We Fight to Win is one of the first books to focus on adolescence and political action and deftly explore the ways that the politics of youth activism are structured by age inequality as well as race, class, and gender.

Excerpt

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 activism, the 2003 marches made history in terms of the sheer numbers of people participating in the antiwar demonstrations. If the news cameras were to zoom in on the crowds and were to look beyond the spectacle of people’s collective outrage spilling into the streets, they would have caught a variety of groups coalescing together: environmentalists, workers, antiglobalization activists, war veterans, elderly people, churchgoers, families, teachers, college students, and even children. These groups did not appear in the streets haphazardly or randomly; many were mobilized long before into carefully organized campaigns for social justice. Behind these massive demonstrations were leagues of civic organizations and tireless organizers who worked daily to organize their communities for social change. If the cameras would have zoomed in even closer, they might have noticed that some of these core community organizers were teenagers. Although already politically active, most of these teens worldwide did not yet have the right to vote in formal elections. Many of them were not even old enough to drive a car.

In one corner of the world, I first met some of these teenage organizers at a peace rally in Portland, Oregon, during the autumn of 2002. Under a . . .

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