youth (voices) in adult dominated spaces

after i'd been soaked with surprisingly persistent san francisco rain for most of the five days i was out there, i walked into the marriott hotel on 4th street to a room where folks - youth, mostly - were sharing pieces of their documentary work. folks from YouthRadio and Berkeley High's CAS program talked, screened, and engaged in the process of doing a different kind of (re)presentation work in the world.

about a week ago at TC's Threat N Youth conference, i had the good fortune to chair a panel where, once again, youth were not only at the front of the room (figuratively), but were the ones who participated in the conversation about who represents what, when, how; and why it matters; oh, and, what exactly do we mean when we talk about race and gentrification and class and (in)equity...??

despite these brief moments of youth voices and presence in the adult-dominated worlds of academic conferences, the remains a skepticism on the part of some these adults about what it does to disrupt the adult norms in such venues. when i express support of these moments, i am met with responses such as "kids put front and center further isolates and sensationalizes their lives," or, "the value stands in the interpretation of their words, and not so much in their words or thoughts alone." i certainly don't want to put young people in hostile environments, but i can't help but wonder if the desire to "protect" young people is more about protecting them from adults have to say about them, than from what adults may say to them during a "live" discussion.

the take home message: check out YouthRadio and the work of lissa soep - ed director of youth radio - who was recently featured in tcrecord.

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