Recent Events in Minneapolis and Beyond
The Youth Mentoring Action Network (YMAN) remains committed to its mission of leveraging the power of mentoring in the fight for equity and justice. At this moment, re-imagining and re-making youth-led, multigenerational spaces in which healthy dialogue, community-engaged education, and civic engagement create equitable environments for youth to thrive in is essential. We all must come together to address anti-Blackness in ALL of our communities. We believe that once we have taken significant steps towards addressing anti-Blackness in this country that this will be a valuable first step towards liberation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen videos, photos, and reactions related to the unrelenting systemic violence and inequity marginalized communities face. These do not exist in a vacuum.
Our youth and their families are not shielded from what is happening.
These events should make us realize that even as adults, we struggle to make sense of the world. So much so that we may forget that our young people grapple with the same reality, the reality that their very existence continues to remain at risk. Young people see these tragedies and find it challenging to discover where they fit in, staring at a country that turns a blind eye to state-sanctioned violence against marginalized individuals; and, in particular, those in the Black community.
We can not afford to sit idly by. We must realize that if our collective mission is “youth development,” we must walk alongside our young people in their pain, anger, distancing, and, most importantly, their demand for justice. We must commit to healing ourselves while working to heal our communities. It is clear that we must engage in critical dialogue as well as action and that these conversations and actions need to center our young people, who guide our work and make us better practitioners in the field.
As part of our direct response to this issue, we are renewing our plans to create an Incident Response Team that will be deployed to support youth-serving organizations tasked with helping young people heal. This work will include training and incident planning while collaborating with mentors on the ground as well as organizational staff. As non-profits working in marginalized communities, it often falls on us to work with those we serve to ensure that there is a continuity of care for our young people.
At YMAN our plan of action is as follows:
We will continue to center youth, curate safe spaces for youth, and support youth as they work to build a better world.
We are working to support youth agencies in Minnesota. We will be providing training support and resources for their staff and volunteers as well as supporting them in holding space for young people processing recent events.
We will renew and innovate our efforts to address and eradicate the anti-Blackness and racism that permeates our personal and professional youth development spaces through critical training, learning communities, and an Incident Response Team.
We look forward to continuing our Black Girls (EM) Power initiative, which centers young Black women and facilitates spaces for intergenerational learning and healing.
We will continue building collective capacity with other grassroots organizations in the Inland Empire (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties) and to go beyond conversations or training and begin to advocate for laws and policies within our region.
YMAN will continue to utilize our resources to build a Wellness Collaborative that centers marginalized identities, supports positive self-identity development, and works to heal racial trauma.
We look forward to our collaboration with the hard-working youth development professionals in Minneapolis and St. Paul. You are not alone. We see you, we hear you, and we recognize that when we collaborate to build and grow with you, we are also developing and improving the communities we serve directly in Southern California.
The Youth Mentoring Action Network