Education truly is the most powerful tool today’s youth have. As a college senior, working at Boston Mobilization has tied me to several decades of work against oppression, particularly the Civil Rights Movement and racial justice work. In light of this past year’s recent events – Ferguson, Staten Island, Madison, and even lesser known stories of discrimination and injustice – we’ve taken a look into the past to see how youth in our Sub/Urban Justice program can react. Here’s some of the things I’ve learned.
With the release of the movie Selma, I’ve learned of the immense struggle several black leaders faced just to vote. Though I go to a top university, watching this film was the first time I heard of this momentous event in 1965, or names like Diane Nash and John Lewis. What I also witnessed was the direct correlation between police brutality on “Bloody Sunday” and the attack on black people today. During February break, teenagers from Sub/Urban Justice watched the film together, and learned of these same connections. It’s through this knowledge that we can see how far civil rights have advanced for black citizens, but the tremendous work that needs to be done.
Perhaps most influential in my experience with Boston Mobilization is the ability I’ve acquired to recognize oppression. One workshop I’ve participated in frequently with our organization is “Race and Class”. Key to this workshop is the concept of the Four I’s of Oppression (Interpersonal, Institutional, Ideological, and Internalized) has demonstrated how racism manifests in different ways. For example, as a Mexican-American, I can recognize that preconceptions of my Mexican culture (food always seems to be a hot topic) hold internalized notions that verge on racism. When these combine with prejudices that result in action, say a themed party at my school with “sombrero attire”, a direct infringement on my identity occurs. I’ve always felt uncomfortable around events like these, but now I am able to recognize these actions as oppressive. It’s through this education that me, and many of our Sub/Urban Justice program, are able to work against racism, sexism, ageism, etc.
There’s a barrage of events that have gained national attention, thanks in large to social media. Since the commence of Black Lives Matter movements in Boston, our program has been involved in organizing. In November, we marched from Dudley Square to South Bay Correctional Institute in direct opposition to Police Brutality and the lack of justice for Mike Brown. One of our student interns organized a school-wide walk out at Cambridge Rindge and Latin after a lack of advocacy from administration in that school. Other interns have participated in local marches throughout Boston. With the winter, however, we’ve shifted gears to educate and gain strength within our office to further the work of organization. It is with these tools that I have been able to deconstruct oppression and racism. The same proves true for the high school interns of Sub/Urban Justice.
— Roberto, College Support Staff