Creating communities is essential in our efforts toward a more inclusive society because, as Sarah-SoonLing Blackburn, LFJ deputy director of Learning & Engagement notes, “This work is more sustainable when we share it with others.” Whether for educators in spaces where censorship is a reality, young people and others who bear the brunt of oppressive policies and actions, or those who face targeted attempts of erasure, building connections reminds us we are not alone in this work.
Parents and caregivers are at the forefront in efforts to give children the foundation to build future inclusive societies. Nationally recognized anti-racist writer and educator Britt Hawthorne recommends starting early with children to create homes “rooted in justice, compassion and love.” These LFJ resources include recommendations for growing readers and their families that affirm identities, celebrate diversity and highlight justice because, as Hawthorne explains, “When we’re genuinely in and relating to our community, we’ll sense the injustices and justices of the world.”
As journalist and educator Anthony Conwright argues in the Fall 2022 issue of Learning for Justice magazine, “Trauma-informed and restorative justice practices are among the beginning models of an equity process to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. And while systemic change is essential, educators have an immediate responsibility to prioritize the mental health and well-being of students.”
“Listening to the perspectives of those with lived experience is key to understanding that disability is not a problem to solve but part of the total human experience to embrace.” —Keith Jones
So how can we improve disability inclusion in social justice and overcome ableism? Jones explains, “As our movement seeks anti-racist legal reform, access to economic sustainability and employment, quality education, reproductive rights and bodily autonomy, we must include people with disabilities—who cut across all intersecting demographics. And we must be intentional in that inclusion.”
Young people have always met challenges head-on, and contemporary youth activists have an ever-increasing set of issues to address—ongoing systemic racism, economic inequality, gun violence, reproductive and human rights, an accelerating climate crisis and more. The unwavering support of committed adults can help young people in their endeavors to realize their power and promote justice.
To today’s youth activists: We see you, we celebrate you and we encourage your work. You are the agents of change for the future.