Black Youth Rising, by Shawn Ginwright is a book that changed my life because it addresses violence, East Oakland, social movements and the need for folks to understand how the crack epidemic’s most profound impact may be the ways in which it underminded Black city residents ability to hope that shit might get better.
Given what has happened in Oakland with Oscar Grant, given the fact of how Shirley Sherrod was treated and given the fact that the New Model Minority book club is reading Nixonland, this book offers a great counter point and broader context of the above issues. Especially for folks who are interested in social movements and? young people.
I will provide quotes with comments below some of them.
Hope + Urban Social Movements
…activism in the post civil rights era has to deal with both dismantling of structural barriers to opportunities and the internal consequences of exposure to years of of intensified urban poverty. More than electoral policies, community organizing and advocating or a better public policy we concluded that the activism in the post- civil rights era should re-build hope and heal communicates from the trauma of urban violence and racial marginalization. We didn’t render electoral polices, community organizing, and civil rights strategies obsolete, but rather, we believed that healing and hope were critical prerequisites for activism and social change.
Here Shawn is saying “How you gone win when you ain’t right within” ~Lauryn Hill.
I had never thought of putting hope and healing first. This was an eye opener and I was only on page 7.
A Community of Care
…care in this sense allows young people to see themselves in a broader context of justice and liberation…
…care is facilitated by building critical consciousness among black youth and providing opportunities and space for political expression and engagement.
I like this idea of political engagement because it feeds into both online and offline activities.
Community, on the other hand, is more than networked relationships, trust and mutual expectations. Community is a consciousness of the interrelatedness that one has with others.
Care as a Political Act
Caring relationships, however can confront s and foster beliefs about justice among young people. These caring relationships are simply not about trust, dependence and mutual expectations. Rather they are political acts that encourage youth to heal from the trauma by confronting injustice and oppression in their lives. Care builds hope, political consciousness , and the willingness to act on behalf of common good…Young people must heal before they can act.
The connection between healing and hope is real.
I am not sure that healing and acting are this linear. Healing is a lifelong process. There certainly has to be a willingness there tho.
Hope and Radical Imagination
Daily survival and the ongoing crises management in young peoples lives make it difficult to see beyond the present. In healing communities, however battle scars are mended, racial wound are healed, and ruptured communities are made whole again. Ultimately hope is restored.
The central argument throughout this book is that intensified oppression in urban communities has threatened the type of community spaces that foster hope.
Hope and radical imagination are important perquisites for activism and social change.
Radical healing involves building the capacity of young people to act upon their environment in order to create the type of communities in which they want to live.
We don’t create societies for young people. We help them deal with their hearts so they can create the hood that they want to live in. Awesome, no?
On Solving Other Peoples Problems
This means that we ask not so much what we can do for black youth, but more important, how relationships can recalibrate what black youth can do for themselves.
I LOVED this idea.
It isn’t patronizing. It treats young people like the agents of THEIR OWN LIVES. And it allows for everybody in the hood to make a contribution, regardless of status or income.
Young people feel, if you respect me enough to tell me the truth, then I have greater respect for you.
Game for free.
Forgiving Fathers in Prison
In a section of the book on Black masculinity Ginwright explains how a young man, who had not been in contact with his father, decided to go to the county jail to visit his father and confront him on being absent from his life.
Vinces father didn’t respond with excuses blaming his mother, or blaming the system, the way Vince anticipated. What his father told him shook him to the core. …His father looked him directly in the eyes and said in a low sincere voice that he was so very sorry for causing him and his mother pain. “Nothing I can say or do will ever heal that, I did y’alll wrong and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life. But you, Vince, can make another choice and not repeat mistakes I made.”
…Vince realized that his encounter with his father was more than his own individual healing; his act of courage also opened the door for his father to heal as well.
I was crying when I read this. How many people WISH they could say this to their parents, but never get the courage nor opportunity?
Lord knows I have worked hard around forgiving my father. I guess this scene spoke to me, to my history with my poppi.
Systemic Change and Young People
…we must consider how structural inequality shapes young peoples lives while at the same time prepare youth to contest, challenge, respond and negotiate the use and misuse of power.
Systemic change focuses on root causes of social problems and makes explicit the ways that various forms of oppression work together. This helps counter the low self esteem that comes from youth being blamed for their own oppression.
I thought this was useful in that it reminded me of Audre Lorde’s quote that we have to teach our children how to Love and Resist at the same time, or they will not survive. #ummhmm.
Ginwright has lead a camp, Camp Akili, for groups of 100 youth for 5 days of activities.? One of these activities is the sexism ritual, which teaches young men and women about sexism. In the following excerpt a young man talks about learning about taking women seriously. He says,
” I had a real problem with disrespecting women. Bilal would always call me out and check me when i was thinking about a woman in a disrespectful way. Like if a woman was speaking or something, I wouldn’t give a fuck because I would be looking at her ass or something. I would be sitting hearing her talk, but thinking she got a big ass. But now when a woman speaks, I listen to her opinion, I want to know what she has to say….”
I found this section to be powerful because it shows how young men are socialized to look at a woman’s “ass” rather than listen to what she is saying when she is speaking. I appreciate this for its honesty. It gave me hope.
Power vs. Information
Many of the problems facing Black youth come from a lack of power, not a lack of information. The capacity for youth, for example, to sit on police review boards and participate in hiring teachers and school principals focuses more on shifting power to young people than changing behavior.
I like this because it gets at who has a say in deciding how an institution is run and who doesn’t.
In the end Ginwright makes the argument for community based healing centers, which I think is practical necessary and awesome. This came about in a study funding by Oakland’s Task Force on Youth and Safety and Violence. Ginwright goes on to say that the recommendation outlines how the impact of violence poverty and lack of access to health care have been traumatic to young people in Oakland.? The question is how to do it. #ummhmm.
Care as a political act? What do you think?
Using relationships to help young people make moves in their lives?
What would happen if hope was restored? You think this is possible? Why or why not?