In June of 2019, Merced youth successfully campaigned for $5,000 – and another $8,500 in June 2021 – in youth sports vouchers to cover registration and equipment fees for low-income youth.
We want to live in a world where all people have what they need to thrive, in balance with our living planet. In this world, the burdens and benefits of labor are redistributed on a global scale, putting ownership of land, natural resources, materials, and technology, in the hands of the collective. New structures are in place to ensure that wealth and resources are not concentrated in the hands of a few but continue to be equitably distributed amongst the people and the planet.
We strive to be vocally and actively anti-capitalist, in solidarity with communities worldwide who are fighting to end the exploitation of people and the planet. Because the wealth gap is so great, there is an urgent need to extract whatever resources we can from the current system in order to ensure the survival of our communities. And since capitalism is the water we’re swimming in, our youth and their families need the knowledge and tools to navigate this system to avoid becoming its prey. This means building financial literacy along with understandings of economic systems so that youth can build wealth while also challenging the status quo.
It means making housing, education, healthcare and other basic resources and services free for those who want it, and providing other kinds of opportunities – like skilled labor – so that youth can make a living wage without sinking into debt. It means shaping new policies around public and private land use and ownership. It means democratizing workplaces and nurturing alternative business models, like worker-owned cooperatives.
Founded on a model of scarcity, greed and endless growth, capitalism in its current form doesn’t just put profit above life – it sees human life and our planet as expendable resources to be exploited at the whim of a powerful few. Services on which we all depend – energy, power, water, healthcare, housing, banking, the internet – have been privatized, eliminating accountability and public control. Because we rely on these services, the institutions that control them become “too big to fail,” requiring bailout after bailout – even when they have clearly violated the public trust, polluted the environment and destroyed millions of lives.
The rest of us – the vast majority – are left to fight each other for the tiniest crumb (microscopic by many calculations) of the economic pie, with virtually no say on any aspect of the economy.
In rural areas, like California’s Central Valley, wealth is controlled by those who “own” land – land that was never theirs to begin with, but was stolen from First Nations. Those who do the back-breaking labor of working the land – mostly Latinx, low-income and undocumented – rarely enjoy the fruits of their labor. Literally. Among the lowest paid laborers in the nation, most farmworkers cannot even afford the produce that they harvest.
Since parents don’t make enough to sustain their families, their children often have to join them in the fields, working before and after school or dropping out altogether to help make ends meet.
“My parents are in their 50s and work is all they have done their whole lives since they were young children. My dad has no hobbies or vision of what he’d enjoy. Tied to having to survive, they’ve worked until their bodies are broken down.”
Wealth is closely guarded by police, policy and institutional barriers that bar low-income communities of color at every turn. Banking and credit lending systems are designed so that those with generational wealth can continue to build wealth – and to take advantage of those who do not know how to navigate the system. Banks are scarce in low-income neighborhoods, while payday lenders with exorbitant rates abound, trapping their customers in vicious cycles of debt.
Youth are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Because adults don’t value their input and contributions, young people are rarely fairly compensated for their work. Many corporations have found loopholes through which to exploit youth labor, for example, by pressuring under-resourced students to sell chocolates and other items. Even in the public sector, youth internships that are marketed as opportunities to prepare youth for career or government positions often relegate interns to menial tasks like making copies – and they are often expected to provide free labor in exchange for “experience.”
For many low-income youth of color, the military and college athletics programs – where they literally put their bodies and lives on the line – are the only way out of poverty. But even public institutions have become so expensive that many graduates spend their lives strapped with student loans. And the degrees they receive don’t guarantee a living wage.
As the income gap widens – and compensation for our labor barely allows us to eek out a living – work has become a means to control our sense of worth, our values, our ability to resist and even to live.
Timeline of Wins in Economic Justice
The Fresno City Council voted to approve the Zero Fare Clean Act (ZFCA) on a 5-2 vote on Thursday, February 18th, 2021.
Fresno Boys & Men of Color secures $300,000 in CARES funds to support community-based, holistic mental wellness services and paid internships for young people.
yli, Half Moon Bay City and ALAS hosted an emergency Coastside Collaborative meeting in response to Bay City Flowers Closing
After weeks of counting votes for an unprecedented midterm election turnout, it appears that San Mateo’s transportation tax, Measure W, has passed by a razor-thin margin. The measure will generate $80 million per year in sales tax revenue for the next 30 years to improve public transit, create safer bike and pedestrian routes, reduce traffic, … Continued
San Mateo youth successfully led campaign to end predatory payday lending practices in Pacifica.