Keep the Basics Clear - A Challenge for All Young People

Young people's oppression is not a myth. It is not just something that used to happen. It is not just something that affects other people. It is happening to us, right now. Young people's oppression is what we live in every day.

When you question your thinking and assume that someone else knows better - that's what it is. When you feel like you're not quite cool enough, like you have to dress a little different, listen to music that's a little different, be a little quicker with the punch lines - that's what it is. When you feel like you have to fight for room to breathe, and there's certainly no one who's gonna give you a real hand - that's what it is. When you plan to be happy someday, plan to reach your dreams someday, when you work so hard to be somebody someday that you forget that you're a complete person now, that you can shine now, that you can enjoy the moment you are in - that's what it is. And every time you feel like you just aren't quite good enough - that's what it is.

Young people's oppression isn't something we made up because we "want to complain" or because we "like to whine." We are scared by it, we are crushed by it, we are confused by it, and we are undeniably outraged by it. We can't stand for it to go on any longer. Let's do something about it.

Oftentimes, young people's liberation has focused on fighting against the system, against laws like the voting age or the driving age; fighting against institutionalized structures, against schools and having to go to class on time; fighting against rules, against how our parents think we should dress and when they think we should come home. These are issues that need to be taken on, but I want us to go beyond these issues. These are the more tangible things which are easier to fight against, but they are not the fundamental things which have hurt us. They reflect the basic oppression, but they are not the things that have taken away our power.

There are places where we are hurt every day, in our every interaction. We struggle to hold onto ourselves in the face of those who keep us at a bit of a distance, in the face of a dismissive tone, a demeaning glance, or a patronizing smile. Sometimes the oppression smacks us hard in the face, but always it is trying to slowly push us down.

We deserve sincere congratulations for where we have kept struggling. We can be completely proud of ourselves. And there's also that place inside of each of us where we want to give up, where we doubt ourselves, or where we decide it's not worth trying anymore and we'll let them have their way, even though we know better. We pull back within ourselves and go away a little, or shrug our shoulders and decide not to care. That place within us is the result of very early hurts which are at the core of our oppression, and that is where I want us to fight. I am asking us to remember that we are completely smart, completely powerful, and completely human, no matter what. And I am asking us to fight against any places where we feel like giving up on ourselves.

This is going to mean going after our early hurts. It's going to mean going where we don't want to go and putting ourselves in the places that feel the worst. It's going to mean crying and shaking and sweating until we break free from the chains of this oppression. That's what liberation is.

We deserve to have each other, and we deserve to be surrounded by allies. We deserve to have support all around us. But our battles are not dependent on this, our re-emergence is not contingent on anyone else. I challenge us to take charge of our lives. We can know who we are no matter how confused the rest of the world is, and we can have ourselves in the face of whatever else might be going on.

This is not about fighting against anyone. What we want is what is right for all humans, and we can assume that everyone in the world wants to be on our side. We will win them over. We will have them with us, and this will be because we have ourselves. This battle is about fighting for us, and I have every faith that we can succeed. Let's not wait around any longer. It's time to go ahead. It thrills me to imagine what the world will look like when we all have ourselves.

Ellie Brown
RC International Liberation Reference Person for Young People
Wilmington, Delaware, USA


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07