How isolated is an isolated incident, really? When we consider youth violence, we need to see the whole picture. Last time, we talked about intersectionality and youth violence. Simply put, intersectionality is how different factors, like race, gender, and income status, come together and put some at a disadvantage. Today, let’s discuss the role of race - one thing to consider through an intersectional lens - and how it affects youth violence.
There are, of course, nuances that we here cannot cover. As such, this post is intended as a starting point for discussion and not a replacement for research.
For starters, what is race? We often think of it as skin color, but where did it come from and what does it mean?
To justify enslavement and forced labor, race classified and dehumanized people of color, particularly those originating from Africa, native Americans, and their descendants (Smithsonian 18). Armed with pseudoscience and a lust for power, the effects of colonial Europeans’ deeds continue to this day. Racial violence does not exist in a vacuum. For youth, living in the advent of the internet has exposed many to realities beyond their own experiences, but these prejudices remain. It’s no coincidence that a whopping sixty-one percent of hate crimes are racially charged (FBI 20). Crime, particularly as it pertains to violence against youth, is a symptom, not cause of racism.
So what now?
Volunteering at community initiatives for youth in POC (person of color) predominating neighborhoods and donating to youth-centered organizations is key (CDC 21). If you’re in a position to, you can also mentor youth of color in after-school programs, work with hospitals to lessen the harms violence inflicts. Every community is different, and as such, initiatives against youth violence are not universal. If anything, talk with involved community members, leaders, anyone who is willing to learn firsthand what it is that needs to be done. And above all, speak out. Silence is violence.