Youth in action, July-August 2020

July 1, 2020

From the July-August 2020 issue of News & Letters

by Buddy Bell

During a stifling May heat wave in Israel, many schoolboys and some schoolgirls came to public school wearing shorts. Although that was fine for the boys, some of the girls were forced to change or go home, including in Ra’anana and Petah Tikva. Days later, a group of 12 girls from the Hefer Valley region planned to go to school together, wearing shorts. Public schools in Israel are presumed to be secular, but the girls were refused entry to their school. The day after, similar protests had spread to Kfar Saba, Modi’in, Lod and other towns.

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High school youth fighting racism

A national uprising of resistance to racism in policing has infused cities and towns. Youth—and especially young women of color—are leading many or most of these protests.

In Monrovia, Calif., daily protests fill the park in front of the public library. Organizer Selah Kelly said on KGEM: “The people in this town want change, so the people that were there [on the first day]—they visualized it and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to tell someone else about this, I’m going to make a flyer’… Everyone is doing their part, and it’s a beautiful thing.”

Some of the thousands of demonstrators in Chicago’s Union Park,
on June 6, 2020. Photo by News & Letters.

In Wexhaw, N.C., hundreds of students from Ardrey Kell High School gathered to hold a protest and repaint their school’s iconic rock after its graduation season design supporting the Black Lives Matter movement was defaced. Kayden Hunt said to the Charlotte Observer: “We want to spread love in this area, to spread that we deserve to be here, to feel comfortable here as Black students.”

In Kansas City, high schooler Janelle Brown said on KCTV: “For myself for a long time, I saw [marching, protests] as ‘that’s the past.’ I’ve had my own personal instances with racism and prejudice, but it amplified with George Floyd’s murder. His murder was the tipping point.” In Auburn, Ala., a university student told AL.com: “America still has their knee on our necks. They’re suffocating us from resources, housing, all those things.”

In Creve Coeur, Mo., teenager Lauren Donovan said on KSDK: “I remember hearing one of my neighbors say ‘keep that Black Lives Matter stuff in Ferguson.’ I feel like if we bring it into their backyards they have to look at it. [Racist violence] is not something that just goes on in Ferguson or just north county, predominantly Black neighborhoods. It goes on everywhere.” After students from several Denver, Co., high schools coordinated a large march to the capitol building, Kaliya Carillo told CBS: “Young voices are the most important right now. I think we’re the next generation coming up, so we need to show our leadership.”

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