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Through film, young people illustrate how militarism impacts their communities

Photo: / AFSC

AFSC's Humanize Not Militarize youth film festival premieres in Washington, D.C. this weekend. 

This weekend, youth activists and filmmakers from six U.S. cities will convene in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore for the Humanize Not Militarize Youth Film Festival and gathering. The young people attending created videos on a range of issues affecting their everyday lives—from gentrification in their cities to the school-to-prison pipeline, from police violence to the inhumane treatment of immigrants in this country.

Participants—and the videos they produced—recognize that these issues are interconnected. State violence and militarization in our communities are all built on the foundations of racism, heterosexism, and interlocking systems of oppression.

At this weekend's gathering, youth will spend a day in Baltimore getting to know each other, sharing their experiences with militarism in their communities, visiting areas where AFSC works, and hearing from staff and community members how the city is moving forward after the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015. In Washington, D.C., they'll get the chance to see their videos screened at the premiere of the Humanize Not Militarize youth film festival at the celebrated Busboys and Poets. The standing-room only event will also include a presentation of the People's Choice award. 

In addition to sharing their films to spread awareness about the issues affecting their communities, several participants are organizing a public action for July 25 on Capitol Hill. It’s important to take up space in the nation’s capitol and to call out the many harmful policies and funding priorities that amplify militarization and racism. It’s the first action that several of the participants have ever helped organize.

Throughout the weekend, we'll share livestream coverage, photos, and more on social media, sending a powerful message about how young people reject militarization, demand justice for marginalized communities, and will continue to build power and resist.

To keep up with our Humanize Not Militarize gathering this weekend, follow #HumanizeNotMilitarize on Twitter.

And check out a few of the entries in our film festival, all produced by filmmakers age 23 or younger: 

"#NoTasers," Chicago


"Understand our position," Los Angeles


"It's the Same - YUIR," St. Louis


"Protect Yourself from Entrapment," Arab American Action Network Youth Program


About the Author

Debbie Southorn is the Program Associate with Chicago’s Peacebuilding program, where she has organized with youth and communities in Chicago around anti-militarism, divesting from policing, and ending surveillance since 2015.  

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