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Free Youth Now: An Introduction to Youth Liberation

Tuesday 15 June 2021

What is Youth Liberation?

Youth Liberation

It's a simple and powerful idea: Stop all forms of violence against young people. Recognize that young people are people with rights and dignity.  

Still, I feel like I continuously need to revisit this question. 

The subordination of youth is firmly baked into society and my experience; we are surrounded by it.  Therefore, staying committed to principles of youth liberation can be challenging because we are constantly inundated with adult supremacist ideology

It reminds me of the joke where one fish swims past two other fish and says to them, "the water's nice today, eh?" And when the fish is gone, one of the two says to the other, "What the heck is water?" 

Just to be clear, the subordination of youth is the water in this joke. Except that it's not nice. But youth subordination can be so pervasive and seem so normal that many of us barely even notice it. 

So that is one reason I come back to this question. Another reason is that my perspective on liberation changes as I learn more about various forms of oppression. Reflection helps me stay committed to youth liberation while keeping the approach flexible. 

To me, youth liberation means that youth are recognized and treated as human beings

Young people are not merely future adults, and they are not objects or property to be molded according to adult needs and interests. 

Youth liberation means appreciating young people as people, with their own unique wishes, interests, and needs. 

Youth liberation also means not harming youth. Despite often having good intentions, adults routinely harm youth

Examples of harm include: physical violence against young people, forced psychiatric drugging, conversion therapyforced schooling, denial of the right to vote, environmental degradation, and ignoring youth voices on issues that impact their lives. Disturbingly, all of these forms of harm are -- to varying extents -- allowed under current legal systems.  

As I have written before, liberation is about more than equal rights. Youth liberation means liberation from all forms of oppression, including racism, ableism, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, poverty, ageism against older people, and others. 

Youth liberation is part of creating a world worth living in -- creating a world where every person has the space and support to live a meaningful life

In this way, youth liberation is also a practice. It is a way of living that challenges the subordination of young people while affirming and supporting their personhood. 

The practice of youth liberation is part of the broader practice of liberated living -- of resisting oppression by listening to, supporting, and respecting each other

And it is something that we can be practicing every day. 

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