Move aside Kim K. These Minneapolis youth are breaking the internet and dropping truth on the food justice movement.
Appetite for Change, a community-led organization that’s “using food as a tool to [build] health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis,” released this RADDDDD rap video featuring youth from its job-training program. The video has been viewed over 84,000 times and shared all over the interwebs, including VH1, Nick Cannon, and Chris Brown.
Watch the video and you can’t deny the power and artistry of these youth. Their ability to capture the struggles in our food system in each carefully crafted line, and to a catchy-ass beat to boot, is pure magic. And while I love the messages to eat healthy, grow food, and rethink your drink, my absolute favorite line, delivered at the 3:39 minute mark, had less to do with food and everything to do with my role in the movement:
The youth are the truth there’s no stopping us // The youth are the truth there’s no stopping us!
The lyric seems simple enough, but throughout my years of organizing around food justice it’s become starkly clear just how adultist the movement is. We live in a society that constantly undervalues and disempowers young people. Common phrases like, “youth are the future,” and “you’ll understand when you’re older” assume superiority of adults over youth. Our systems and language are designed to close youth off from places of power and silence the wisdom that they hold.
Think back to the last time you were engaged in something related to food justice [or really any justice movement]. Were youth represented in the room? Were they given the opportunity to share their experiences or wisdom? Did they hold leadership positions?
As I watched this video and saw these beautiful, black young people organize and mobilize for change I was reminded of how important it is for me, as an adult, to move back and open up the space for our young people to lead, teach, and share all that they know about food justice.
Lucky for us Seattle folks, we have a powerful community of young people all over the city making big change in our local food system. There is, of course, FEEST, who I’ll never stop gushing about and who recently aired its own rad video [produced by our girlcrush Devon de Lena] on its youth-led movement:
Beyond what FEEST is doing over in White Center, we’ve got API Chaya’s FYRE-Filipino Youth Reunite to Elevate-who have built a community garden in response to a need for access to safe, healthy produce in the south end. You may have also seen the folks of Seattle Youth Garden Works at your local farmers market, slanging the fresh, organic produce they grow through the youth employment program at Seattle Tilth’s Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetland. And then there’s the WILD Youth program of InterIm CDA, which is very near and dear to my heart as a program I have the privilege of working close with. This Chinatown/International District based group of POC high school youth are paving the way in environmental justice and weaving in pieces about how food shapes their low-income, urban neighborhood.
Needless to say, the magic that the youth of Appetite for Change brought is not confined to the northern Minneapolis area. All around the world, youth are leading movements. And it is the responsibility of adults to move aside so that we can all fight the struggle together.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to deconstruct adultism and practice allyship with young people, check out Powerful Voices, a Central District based non-profit that focuses on empowering young female-identifying people to be change agents. They’ve got their annual Girl Justice 1.0 and 2.0 Training coming up January 26th, 2017, which is a great introduction to challenging adultism and other forms of oppression through a youth-worker lens.
Big ups to all the youth agencies and young people that continue to put in the hard work to change our system! Let us know what youth-led food justice agencies we missed in the comments below!