“I can help you with the brand new technology / You can help me with the age-old philosophy.” –Better People, India Arie
It repeatedly comes to my attention that many adults of our society suffer from an ironic form of cognitive dissonance when it comes to their politics on aiding youth. Many hasten to advocate for the empowerment of urban youth through mentorship and guidance, but many adults do not challenge the language and discourse they use to describe and engage with young people. Uplifting youth necessitates being a youth ally, and it is my stern belief that one cannot begin to aid youth if we do not respect youth. We must continually see youth as profoundly resilient beings that rationally contend with their social circumstances. Accordingly, creating true cross-generational dialogue necessitates an active mutual respect on the part of adults and youth. This means not thinking of youth solely as sponges through which adults can imbue a mythological experiential wisdom, but we must realize the lessons that youth have to teach the world.
My thoughts on this are spurred by a brief ride on a crowded bus on the South Side of Chicago. When a particularly rowdy bunch of youth boarded the bus, scarcely a moment passed before the chorus of adultism erupted into the air.