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Web Letter

I don't think Ms. Pillai's criticism is entirely fair. Two out of four organizations I featured in the forum--The League of Young Voters and United We Dream--work primarily with youth of color, non-college youth and young people from poor communities.

There are over 500 youth-led or youth-driven organizations in the United States, and we are bound to overlook urgent work of many youth organizers in one article. However, I hope that Pillai will follow the StudentNation page online. Last year, it featured both groups she mentions--YUCA and FIERCE (among many others)--through syndicated articles from WireTap Magazine.

Kristina Rizga

San Francisco, CA

Dec 3 2009 - 1:22pm

Web Letter

If Kristin Rizga surmises that youth organizers feel as though "they're sitting on a bus that's out of service" for the lack of attention on youth organizing following the Obama election, even more youth organizers feel as though they aren't even on the bus, despite their years of blood, sweat and tears. While we are proud of the work of the organizations highlighted in Rizga's article, to write an article on the state of youth organizing without including the work of youth organizers of high school age and younger from poor communities doing some of the most phenomenal work in racial, environmental and educational justice is to continue to overlook, overshadow and further marginalize the most affected communities and thus the most transformational leaders for our country's future.

Yes, the Obama election highlighted the power of young people to organize, but the attention paid to youth organizing around the election privileged college campus-based organizing. Local organizing groups working with low-income youth of color have been organizing for presidential elections and then some. For example, Youth United for Community Action's (YUCA) black and Latino youth organizers, all in middle and high school, fought a twenty-year battle to help shut down Romic Environmental Technologies Corporation, a facility that recycled hazardous waste in East Palo Alto, California. FIERCE has been organizing LGBTQ youth, predominantly of color, in and out of high school in New York City, and was recently appointed to the Mayoral Commission for LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless youth--a major coup.

While the mainstream began to wake up to the political power of young people as a result of the 2008 presidential campaign, organizations like these have been fostering the leadership of young people in effecting positive community change for a very long time. I am disappointed that Rizga's article and the entire Special Youth Issue continues to sideline these powerful youth organizing groups.

Supriya Pillai

Brooklyn, NY

Nov 19 2009 - 11:58am

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