A Youth Media Agenda for Social Justice
Youth media is a diverse array of practices in which young people collaborate with artists and educators to express themselves creatively, communicate with peers across borders, and participate in community dialogue and problem solving. Social justice-focused youth media facilitates a root-cause analysis of “why things are the way they are,” has a vision of a more just and equitable society, and uses media to contest dominant narratives and to support systemic change. The process of creating and presenting media can be transformative for youth, educators, communities, and audiences. Pressing issues of our times are addressed, such as the uncertainty faced by undocumented youth, discrimination against transgender youth, and the daily harassment of youth by police. In response to these conditions, young people lead processes of analysis, research, and community dialogue. They articulate their perspectives and join in national, even global dialogues. Moreover, the media they produce contribute to a more pluralistic, democratic media environment. Youth media projects can be found in urban, rural, and suburban neighborhoods; most are deeply rooted in their communities. Youth media is most likely to impact people, communities, and policies when it achieves a mix of several factors: It is well crafted aesthetically, tells a compelling story, has a strong social justice component, is produced to coincide with a specific campaign, and cultivates relationships with partners who can use the media widely.