651 Youth for Justice Seeks To Tackle Racial Equity

651 Youth for Justice Seeks To Tackle Racial Equity

A new leader is emerging in St. Paul’s youth driven educational equity work: 651 Youth for Justice.  651 Youth for Justice is facilitated by Saint Paul Public Schools Community Education Youth Development program but looks toward youth and partner organizations to be leaders and facilitators. Throughout history, young people have played important roles in many movements - 651 Youth for Justice’s goal is it be responsive to youth experiences with discrimination and oppression by providing spaces and resources to reflect and take action.

Opportunities for young people to discuss oppression are as important as ever.  With high profile cases like Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, and Eric Gardner in New York City, youth are working through emotions and tensions like many of us. These can be incredibly hard topics to discuss and even harder to work through but youth will need structured space and time to address them in a healthy manner.

We thought 651 Youth for Justice would be perfect to share some tactics for addressing these issues.  Here are some of their tips.

We believe change starts with honesty and “homework.”

Honesty requires youth workers to create space for youth to tell their truth and be heard, as well as, hear others. Emotions are honest and powerful and can lead to tension and disagreements.  Working through them with the intent to listen to each speaker helps work through these tensions.  At our launch event over the 2014 MEA break we agreed to keep the following in mind throughout our discussion and training:

  • Be mentally present
  • Speak your truth
  • It is ok to feel uncomfortable or to cause discomfort
  • Discussions and feelings might not get resolved today

The “homework” is unearthing how a single experience may be related to systems of oppression. As youth become passionate about something they learn or discuss, youth workers have a unique opportunity to connect them to resources, broaden or contextualize their thinking, and support action. We encourage you to apply for mini-grants offered through 651 Youth for Justice to support anti-oppression action (more information to come). Youth-led projects focused on oppression and discrimination increase exposure, which is necessary to creating change. 

On Monday, December 22, 651 Youth for Justice will host a get-together at Midway Lanes.  It will begin at 11:00am with a training, 4 Simple Rules to Effective Leadership. After the training, youth groups will identify issues they are passionate about, eat lunch, and discuss how they want to move forward in anti-oppression work over bowling.

Monday, December 22nd

11:00 am – 2:30 pm

Midway ProBowl: 1556 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104

651 Youth for Justice will cover all costs and can provide bus tokens.

Register online at stpaul.thatscommunityed.org and search “651” or call 651-487-7383

For more information contact Julie Richards (julie.richards@spps.org)