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Community Safety, Police Brutality, and Prison Abolition
We are committed to ending the carceral State and challenging the presupposition that our communities are made safer when our fellow human beings are locked in cages. We are uniquely aware that the urge to incarcerate first and ask questions later isn’t limited to the state or federal prison system but permeates our criminal (in)justice system. We understand that our communities’ futures are at stake when local, state, and federal governments privatize prisons and detention centers, police forces procure increasingly militarized arsenals, and prosecutors shield police officers who’ve murdered members of the neighborhoods they purport to serve. With this in mind, YP4 believes in developing models of transformative justice grounded in our communities’ abilities to ensure their own safety and wholeness. Understanding this reality, we work with our Fellows and field network to advance campaigns which touch on issues like community safety, police accountability, and prison abolition.
Legal and Judicial Activism
As freedom fighters committed to lasting, meaningful change, we know that, while legal change cannot be the sole path to justice , it is certainly a tool for agents of social justice seeking to reduce the harm of repressive legislation and winning long-withheld constitutional rights. As we mobilize for a demographically and professionally diverse federal bench, we’re cognizant that we face a conservative legal opposition committed to limiting our access to and ability to shape the law. From suppressing the vote, expanding the role of money in politics, reinforcing patriarchal and heteronormative policies, to justifying white supremacist policing practices, conservatives manipulate the courts to send a clear message that our voices, our experiences, and our dreams for the future don’t matter. As we continue the Courts Matter Initiative, YP4 is intentionally engaging diverse young leaders to support transformative organizing, learn the ways in which courts operate, and build a movement for a fair and just courts system that includes the voices and experiences of young people engaged in social justice movements.
As a community of organizers with different abilities and levels of mobility, YP4 knows our movement will never achieve true justice without first engaging in radical self-love for our bodies, minds, and all of their particularities. We believe that a movement for dis/ability justice requires that we expand opportunities and pathways for all people to shape our shared future. In the service of this vision, the YP4 is committed amplifying the work of Fellows and Alumni engaged in work which challenges dis/ability stigma and ensures access to education, housing, high quality health care, and jobs.
We know that voracious predatory capitalism is a threat to the safety, well-being, and survival of our communities and our planet. As wages stagnate and intergenerational wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few, pathways to opportunity are becoming less and less accessible to the rest of us. At YP4, we are uniquely aware of the importance of challenging our system of predatory capitalism and working towards a set of institutional arrangements which allow us all to access the necessities of life — from housing, food, sustenance, and healthcare. In that spirit, we are committed to supporting the work of organized labor, cooperative economists, and those organizing against politics of austerity, both in the US and abroad.
YP4 acknowledges that access to educational resources and opportunities have played integral roles in the ways many of us first enter the social justice movement. At the same time, we’re painfully aware of our institutions’ failures to provide curricula which speak to our lived experiences and honor our communities’ historical resistance, resilience, power, and achievements. YP4 members organize on their campuses and in their communities for equity in education access, tuition abolition, culturally and scientifically relevant curricula, and alternatives to formal education.
The natural environment which nourishes us all and within which we organize for transformative social change is itself collapsing. As we envision a future where our people not only survive but thrive, we’re cognizant of the need for robust organizing to keep fossil fuels in the ground, develop alternative energy sources, and care for our ecosystems. At the same time, we know that those most disproportionately affected by the structural barriers of climate change are often indigenous communities, peoples of color, immigrants, folks from the Global South, trans and queer people, and those targeted by predatory voracious capitalism.
War, predatory capitalism, imperialism, colonialism and global climate change are driving thousands of people to leave their home countries in search of community, economic security, and physical safety. At YP4, we know the demographic shifts catalyzed by today’s human migration have the potential to change the economic, linguistic, and racial landscapes of entire regions and will require critical conversations around the ways our movements conceptualize and articulate issues of empire, national identity, and the construct of borders. As a program dedicated to forging international solidarities in an era of pronounced globalization, we are committed to holding institutions in this country accountable to incorporating migrants into U.S. society while educating our peers about the foreign policy decisions made in our names which force so many to migrate in the first place. With this reality in mind, we support Fellows and alumni organizing visionary projects to support young undocumented people, efforts to expand and protect immigrants’ access to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), as well as campaigns to halt the deportations of undocumented peoples and families, honoring future waves of migration as well as humanitarian migrant crises in various regions of the world.
Trans* and Queer Liberation
Young People For knows that our movement is made stronger when we honor, celebrate and uplift the diversity of sexualities, gender identities, gender expressions, and family structures of our communities. YP4 believes that the act of living and loving unapologetically as trans* and queer people is itself an act of political, social, and cultural revolution. And while the Supreme Court has seen fit to sanction long-term monogamy among queer couples, we know that far too many trans* and queer people –– particularly trans* and queer people of color, immigrants, economically disadvantaged, and those who are differently-abled–– are still fighting for a future where #LoveWins. With that in mind, we strive to create a society in which trans* and queer people have full legal and social equality.
Money in Politics
As a movement, we understand the corrosive influence of money in politics unleashed by Supreme Court rulings like those in Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC that reaches into each of our communities and all levels of elected office. From school board contests, the election of local and state judges, to the revolving door between government service and corporate lobbying, the corrosive influence of money in politics has become the new status quo. As a community of organizers committed to pursuing genuine political equity, Young People For is dedicated to mobilizing our network against the concentration of political influence in the hands of plutocrats. We pledge to work with Fellows committed to exposing the ways corporations are undermining strong regulatory standards — particularly environmental and labor practices — by buying political influence. We also commit to working to support national movements for increased transparency and accountability with regard to campaign financing.
Native/Indigenous In Empowerment, Cultural Preservation, & Tribal Sovereignty
YP4 operates daily with the understanding that the lands upon which our movements organize–– and upon which our own offices are situated –– have been ripped from the hands of their historical inhabitants through the sustained, continued genocide of Native and indigenous peoples. By stripping Native Tribes of their sovereignty, divesting resources from indigenous communities, and consigning Native peoples to the dustbins of history, the U.S. government and agents of imperialism continue to perpetuate the structural violence which began hundreds of years ago. YP4 believes strongly that we as an organization have an obligation to name our complicity in colonialism, support Native activists in their necessary work, and hold communities of colonizers accountable to our actions. In the service of that work, we’ve supported Fellows preserving Native languages and land, advocate for trans* and queer liberation within Native communities, ensure economic prosperity across Native lands, and create self-empowerment for Native youth.
YP4 is not only committed to the sustainability of our movement’s infrastructure, organizations, and resources, we’re also committed to the well-being of those doing the work each day –– and to the communities from which they’ve come. We believe that access to high quality medical care is a necessity for any truly democratic society and a building block for liberation. As such, we lend our support to Fellows and alumni providing direct medical services to those abandoned by the for-profit medical industry, translating technical medical materials for their communities, and those challenging service providers to learn more about the specific health needs of our communities, particularly trans* and queer folks, people living with immunodeficiency’s, and those who are differently abled.
YP4 is committed to the liberation of communities of color in this country and around the world, we have an obligation to state clearly that white supremacy kills, both by rationalizing acts of extreme, targeted violence and by sustaining systems of advantage which systemically limit the distribution of life chances worldwide. As we challenge our campuses, communities, and our movement to take seriously the legacy of white supremacy which manifests in colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and voracious predatory capitalism, we honor the leaders of color who’ve engaged in the work of creating political, cultural, and economic homes for their communities in the face of ongoing violence. Moving forward, we commit to living our politic of collective liberation by centering the voices of scholars, activists, and organizers of color in the development of curricula and holding brave spaces that thoroughly address anti-blackness and xenophobia. As examples of work in this area, we uplift Fellows organizing for the liberation of people of color, reclaiming and shifting mystifying and demonizing narratives, and challenging the way colorism manifests itself in all communities.
At YP4, we know that birthing a movement for transformative justice requires that we hold each other in all our complexities — including our religious and spiritual practices. As a movement with diverse faith traditions –– including atheism and agnosticism –– we at YP4 believe in a holistic reclamation of faith as an integral element of many folks’ organizing work. We uplift the critical insights of the Liberation Theology movement and push back against Christian hegemony which alienates and belittles other spiritual tradition.
Reproductive Rights, Health, and Justice
YP4 believes in the agency, self-determination and bodily autonomy of each individual to make decisions about their bodies and futures. We agitate for a vision of reproductive justice which transcends the legal right to abortion care and which focuses on all people with uteri’s abilities to access the preventive, sexual, pregnancy, prenatal, birthing, abortion, and gender-affirming care they need. In many ways, this vision for reproductive justice extends beyond the medical establishment, however; it includes our strongly held belief that families should have the chance to raise their children in safe, resourced neighborhoods without fear that their kids may be unduly targeted by the police or discriminated against when accessing the social institutions of daily life. Furthermore, we work to underscore the agency of young parents and fight to dismantle narratives around teenage pregnancy that demonize and inaccurately promote the idea that every young parent underwent an unintended pregnancy. With that said we also support the de-medicalization of birth and understand that each person is the ultimate expert and decision maker for their life. With that in mind, we support Fellows and alumni working on projects ranging from the establishment of an abortion fund in El Paso, Texas; direct action campaigns to block Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws; and those providing direct services to people with uteruses seeking contraception and preventive care.
Voting Rights and Voter Engagement
As politically-engaged young people, we also know that forces are mobilizing to limit our access to the franchise by making it difficult to access the ballot box. By requiring unnecessary forms of government-issued photo identification, limiting early voting opportunities, eliminating same-day registration, changing polling locations, and gerrymandering electoral districts to their advantage, conservatives are positioning themselves not just in the way of social progress but as bona fide roadblocks to transformative change. In this movement moment, we are committed to channeling the legacy of the organizers who, throughout US history, have forced elected officials to expand the right to vote –– not to limit it. Through our Vote Program and our Arrive With Five Program, YP4 is committed to educating and organizing young folks to engage those most disproportionately affected by structural violence in local, state, and national elections during and beyond presidential election years. We are committed to leveraging our Vote Program to redefine “civic engagement” in ways which incorporate those who cannot vote — including undocumented people, formerly incarcerated people, differently-abled people, and many more — into conversations on our shared future.
YP4 believes gender is a construct and a function of society and varies across contexts and cultures. In our work, we are committed to challenging patriarchal and heteronormative conceptions of gender as they exist in the Western hemisphere as well as the gender binary as it manifests across sexualities and sexes. We are committed to centering the voices and experiences of those who identify beyond or outside of the gender binary –– specifically those who live at the intersection of identities disproportionately affected by structural violence.