Youth of the world begin fightback

LeiLani Dowell

As imperialism tightens the noose on workers throughout the world, youth are left with few options. According to the United Nations’ 2005 World Youth Report, 18 percent of all youth live on less than one dollar a day, and 130 million youth are illiterate. The report says: “Despite the fact that youth are receiving more education, youth unemployment in the world has increased to record levels ... at a total of 88 million. There is increased pressure on young people to compete in a globalizing labor market.”

Ten million young people currently live with HIV/AIDS.

Here in the wealthiest and most technologically advanced country in the world, the situation is not much better for youth. A powerfully symbolic example of the neglect that youth face [is] that after Hurricane Katrina struck, about 150 teenagers were left in the Orleans Parish Prison, locked up and alone, without food or water, stranded on the top bunks to get away from the floodwater, for three to five days.

However, this year has seen a momentous upsurge in youth resistance around the globe. Here in the United States, students have walked out of schools again and again, first over the war - and sometimes they stayed, and kicked military recruiters off their campuses - and most recently, and in massive numbers, for immigrant rights.

There has been the rise of the youth movement in France, begun with rebellions in November against racist, anti-poor police repression and brutality, and continued with the protests against the CPE, a law that would have given employers the right to fire youth under 26 for no reason, without explanation.

I’m excited that the capitalist marketing of Che as an empty icon is backfiring. Even if every young person doesn’t know the whole history, they know his image is a symbol for revolution.

—LeiLani Dowell, FIST national coordinator and managing editor of Workers World newspaper

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