Two years after the mass resistance of Occupy Wall Street that awakened class consciousness for a new generation of young people, the capitalist crisis is still at a lockdown for youth. The acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin, stands as a firm reminder that youth of color are at risk and that the system is failing us.
We are in year five of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and the president is poised to invade yet another country, with the mob mentality and logic of imperialism. Meanwhile our schools are closing and young people can’t find jobs.
Crushing student debt weighs down on young workers, forcing many of us to work multiple jobs just to get by. Racist violence terrorizes our communities, leading us to ask: When will Trayvon’s Law be passed instead of Stand Your Ground or Stop and Frisk? Backwards anti-immigrant policies destroy families and create a culture of fear and self-policing.
While the situation at this time is bleak, it is not hopeless for young people. The answer must be in collective struggle, with young people in the lead.
In July of this year, a gathering of young revolutionaries met in Detroit to discuss a youth-led response to the capitalist crisis. We come from all sectors of the working class and seek to continue the tradition of young people’s militant resistance to the status quo that has been seen in groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the Civil Rights movement all the way to the Dream Defenders, who occupied the Florida state Capitol for almost a month this past summer.
At the gathering, we resolved to bring back to life and reform our national organization FIST — Fight Imperialism, Stand Together. It’s time for us to organize to build the type of society that puts people’s needs first. FIST is dedicated to achieving such a society by building a multinational, multigendered organization of revolutionary youth that will organize and fight in the streets. We currently have young people organizing in Durham, N.C., Detroit, New York City, Rockford, Ill, Buffalo, N.Y. and Philadelphia.
As Ella Baker said in 1969: ”In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed. This means that we are going to have to learn to think in radical terms. I use the term radical in its original meaning — getting down to and understanding the root cause. It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.”
Tommy Cavanaugh, who has just started FIST in Rockford, Ill., says, ”We’ve received a very positive response in the community and have already had a number of youth step forward in wanting to join FIST and get involved in the struggle. It really shows how youth today are looking for a better way to live and the desire to fight for it.”
FIST calls on young people across the U.S. to join us in fighting to abolish capitalism and to fight for socialism. To learn more about Fight Imperialism, Stand Together, check us out on Facebook or at fistyouth.org