Our generation is facing a future we didn't create and don't desire. Unlike the generations before us, we cannot look forward to a standard of living that is better than that of our parents. Instead, we watch as many of the gains our parents' generation fought for get stripped away. Budgets for education get slashed while prisons become the fastest growing industry, now warehousing over 1.7 million people, mainly Black and Latino. Police brutality, harassment and even murder have touched almost all of our lives. Affirmative action, welfare, remedial education and bilingual education are being quickly dismantled. Police are being placed in our schools. We have to face down fear of violent attack to enter an abortion clinic and exercise our reproductive freedom.
The Youth Network of Refuse & Resist! has its roots in the movement to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, to defend abortion clinics and providers from anti-choice violence, to end police brutality, and the rhythms and voices of the artists that make up our soundtrack. Through all of this we began to see the tremendous potential to organize other young people. Rather than feeling isolated and helpless in the face of injustice, we see our political strength, energy and creativity when we come together. We also see how many more young people are dissatisfied with the way things are. We feel that it is the responsibility, as well as opportunity, of the Youth Network to find ways to connect with and involve these other young people in our fight for a different future.
The R&R! Youth Network is part of Refuse & Resist!, a national organization which exists to resist the entire politics of cruelty being pushed on society. It is unique in uniting youth, students, professionals, artists, working people, and prominent figures in a common effort to build both a movement and a climate of resistance - where we all refuse to be complicit in crimes against the people.
For many of us Mumia Abu-Jamal has been a particular inspiration. Every day in different ways young people are told not to make waves, to just look out for ourselves, and that we can't win even if we do fight - so why bother? In contrast to all this, and at great personal sacrifice, Mumia represents another alternative. He shows that we can stand up and that if we are selfless and dedicate ourselves to social justice, other people will stand up with us. It is because of his example that many of us first found our own voices and got involved. For this reason, the Youth Network of Refuse & Resist! feels a special determination to do whatever we can to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The R&R! Youth Network is finding ways to involve young people who are not "activists," might not be willing to sit through long meetings, aren't well-versed in the details of all the issues we take on, but who are still very unsatisfied with the way things are. All of these people have a place in our movement. While we strive to educate each other, we don't exclude people who "don't know enough" or don't agree on every issue. We are speaking, marching, rhyming, and fighting for a community, culture, and movement of resistance.
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