Tackling anti-black racism through the power of youth

2 November 2020

Anti-Black racism can be found in all aspects of our society and can be felt in every area of young Black people’s lives. We all have a responsibility to change this through meaningful action, not empty gestures.

At the core of #iwill is the value of inclusion. We embrace, champion and celebrate young people from a diverse range of backgrounds and beliefs to co-create solutions and access the benefits of youth social action. And we stand united against all forms of discrimination, including from racial prejudice.

That is why it’s so important that the #iwill movement unites to tackle anti-Black racism. Across the globe, young people are amongst the loudest voices demanding change. Their voices and actions powerfully demonstrate the power of youth. We must all do even more to ensure that Black children and young people shape how our organisations think and act. And together, we must empower more children and young people to take action against racial injustice. 

What more can your organisation do to empower more young people to tackle anti-black racism? Using our Power of Youth Charter, here are examples of how your organisation can grow the power of youth in support of the Black Lives Matter movement:


Prioritise supporting young people to take social action

  • Aim to empower more Black young people to make a positive difference in their communities, enabling them to benefit from the enhanced wellbeing, skills and connections  that participation in youth social action provides
  • Support all young people to take positive social action on racial injustice, including through your programmes, funding and curriculum (for example, check out these useful learning resources from the British Red Cross).

Open up our decision-making structures

  • How often do Black young people shape how your organisation thinks and acts? Create more opportunities for them to do so as young trustees, through participation in youth advisory groups or on your grant or recruitment-making panels.
  • By prioritising listening and learning from Black young people, your organisation can educate itself on issues of racial injustice and structural disadvantages. However, don’t engage Black young people just about racial discrimination. By including them in your decision-making structures, their voices can enhance the effectiveness of your organisation on a range of issues.


“Hearing young Black people explain the impact that racism has had on their lives, and telling us how it should be addressed made a profound impression on all the Step up to Serve Trustees.  Boards around the country should find the time to listen, and consider how they can act upon what they hear, it would help decision-makers understand the depth of feeling and the need for us all to work together to confront injustice.”

Sir Nick Parker, Chair, Step Up To Serve


Work collaboratively with other organisations

  • Tackling racial injustice requires collective action. So consider how your organisation can work with schools, youth organisations or funders to provide more opportunities for all young people to take action against anti-Black racism.
  • Likewise, explore learning from and working with anti-racist organisations who can help your organisation to empower all young people to address anti-black racism.


Evidence the benefits of youth social action

  • Regularly review and report on how your organisation is working with young people to tackle racial injustice.
  • Set meaningful targets to increase the number of Black young people your organisation empower to take positive social action.
  • Gather feedback from Black young people on how their experiences of working with your organisation.
  • Gather and share evidence on the impact the young people you are working with are having on tackling racial injustice in their communities.


Recognise and celebrate young people’s impact

  • UK Youth’s ‘Young and Black’ campaign is a brilliant example of an organisation committing to using their communication channels to advocate for and celebrate Black young people. Consider how your organisation can amplify Black young people’s voices, including by providing opportunities for them to takeover of your social media channels, and by giving them a platform at your meetings and events and profiling and celebrating their impact.
  • Likewise, consider how you can profile and celebrate the social action of non-Black young people who are taking action to tackle racial injustice in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement


Blog by Jason Arthur, Deputy Chief Executive. Jason has recently left Step Up To Serve to begin a new role with Youth Futures Foundation.

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