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Wanted: Adults as Co-Conspirators for Youth

By Mohan Sivaloganathan

Imagine being hungry, stepping into a restaurant with hopes of nourishment, only to be presented with a limited, unsatisfying menu. Or worse, someone has already decided what you are going to eat, and you know from previous experience it will make you sick. Or further still, what if someone believed you didn’t need to be served, because serving you would be inconvenient? Now you’re upset, and still hungry!

In America, we pride ourselves on shaping the terms of our present and future. We grow up believing a promise that if you work hard, you can realize your dreams, not somebody else’s dream, but rather your own aspirations of success. Yet when it comes to America’s young people, too many adults have broken this promise.

The gravity of this situation is apparent when looking at the education system. At the nonprofit Our Turn, we activate the agency of youth to create a just education system that can fulfill America’s promise. Over 80 percent of our members are students of color or first-generation American students who have experienced racial inequities that perpetuate a widening opportunity gap, from discriminatory teaching practices to limited access to high quality curriculum and courses. Our Turn members respond by organizing campaigns with culture-shifting storytelling that speaks truth to power and moves the needle for underserved students.

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