Capturing Impact

Our Recap of A Gathering of Leaders 2014

Building Movement: Challenging the Criminalization of Youth of Color This session employed a youth perspective, focusing on the intersecting impact of policies that result in the criminalization of young people of color and the responses that directly confront these negative policies.


Quabeeny Daniels Voices of Youth in Chicago Education Project
Jonathan Perez Immigrant Youth Coalition
Alexa Bailón Padres Y Jovenes Unidos

Main Points

  • Youth of color need to be a part of the solution to end their criminalization through organizing around ending the school-to-prison pipeline, deportations, and racial profiling by police.
  • Criminalization of youth of color is perpetuated in the mainstream media.
  • How can lawmakers push forward these criminalizing policies and decisions on our behalf that dehumanize us, without our input?
  • The reasons why disconnected youth engage in criminal activities are not addressed, and police are not trained to address those root causes like mental health trauma, family stability, poverty, etc.

Key Strategies

  • Train the youth in cultural competency so they can grow up to be effective leaders.
  • Encourage more youth-led movements like those organized around undocumented youth, LGBTQ youth, and school discipline/school pushout reform.

Action Steps

  • Collaborate with adults who believe in youth empowerment.
  • Advocate for more legislation like the Illinois bill on providing transparency regarding who is being suspended, disaggregated by race and ethnicity.

Standout Quotes

"What are adults doing to transition youth leaders to adult leaders with good pay?"
"We look at youth of color as a population that has to be tolerated and dealt with rather than taught and mentored, at least until we need something from them."
"Youth of color are students, not suspects."