Want to plan a We Are Not at Risk event in your community? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Before planning an action, take some time to ground yourself in what racism and colonialism are and their impact on an institutional, cultural, and individual level. Ask yourself what are ways you have internalized it and how it manifests itself in your personal life.
Remember young people should be at the forefront when planning, implementing, and evaluating the process and outcomes of all actions.
1. Panel discussion: Bring together a group of young leaders and a moderator and pose questions on linguistic racism, what it means, and how it affects young people. Consider examples of harmful rhetoric and its impact. Consider having a dialogue with the panel on the stories and narratives that young people would want to see in the world. Invite questions from the audience after the panel ends and leave attendees with an action item, such as a pledge.
2. Art show: Invite young people to take pictures of themselves or create art pieces that contrast who they actually are and what positive things they do with the harmful rhetoric often used to describe them. Hang the pictures up and invite community members in for a gallery walk followed by a discussion on the reason for the art show, the ways that words can stigmatize youth, and what steps you can take as a community to change that harmful rhetoric.
3. Poetry slam: This could be a wonderful opportunity for young people to counter the harmful words used to describe them with their own words and their own truths. Invite young people to perform their own poetry that focuses on the power of words and allows them to lift up their own identities. Invite community members to the event and suggest ways that they can support young people.
4. Day of silence: Participating young people pledge to remain silent for a day to illustrate the value of the voice of young people and what is lost when they are silenced. Be sure to have some way of explaining to others why you are being silent so that they can reconsider their words.
5. Day of community service: Young people come together to participate in a service project happening in their community. They invite other community members to participate as well and share social media posts of their efforts to contrast the messages usually ascribed to them and to show that they are agents of change.
6. Movie screening: Young people work together to create a short film or view a film that addresses the ways that stigmatizing language affects them. The film can also be on racism, colonialism, or the power of words. Invite community members to a screening of the film and host a discussion after around what and why harmful racist and colonialist coded language is often used to describe young poor youth of color and how we can change it.
7. Training or workshop: Host a three-hour media literacy training with young people and community members to explore the role that media plays in perpetuating racist and colonialist ideologies and how they can become media literate. This could be an opportunity to not only deconstruct the images and words that are often used to talk about young people but also construct the narratives that are youth-centered and humanistic.
* Don't forget to promote and share your event on social media using #wearenotatrisk, #y4l, and #youth4liberation.