“We Need You to Listen to Us”: Youth Activist Perspectives on Intergenerational Dynamics and Adult Solidarity in Youth Movements

Liou, AL; Literat, Ioana
Proceedings of the 2021 AERA Annual Meeting

This study aims to surface youth perspectives on their own activism, their experiences of age-based power dynamics in activist spaces, and their understandings of adult allyship. Using semistructured interviews and innovative participatory visual methods that invite youth to create and discuss original memes, we investigate these questions from the perspective of 10 youth activists involved in counterhegemonic organizing movements in the United States. Our analysis reveals that youth activists feel fundamentally misunderstood along multiple dimensions, including the practice of activism in online and offline spaces, the meaning of young people’s participation in activism, and their desires or expectations in terms of intergenerational allyship. By highlighting the key frustrations experienced by youth organizers and the solidarity practices that they desire from adult allies, this research contributes to a bottom-up understanding of youth activist praxis in relation to larger cultural discourses and adultist systems, while identifying practical implications for intergenerational support.