RAISE IT UP!! Youth Arts and Awareness

Natasha Thomas-Jackson

Abstract

RAISE IT UP! Youth Arts and Awareness (RIU) is an organization that promotes youth engagement, expression, and empowerment through the use of performance and literary arts and social justice activism. We envision a world where youth are fully recognized, valued, and supported as artist-activists and emerging thought leaders, working to create a world that is just, intersectional, and inclusive. Two fundamental tenets shape RIU’s policies, practices, and pedagogy. The first is that creative self-expression and culture making are powerful tools for personal and social transformation. The second is that social justice is truly possible only if and when we are willing to have transparent and authentic conversations about the oppression children experience at the hands of the adults in their lives. We are committed to amplifying youth voices and leadership and building cross-generational solidarity among people of all ages, particularly those impacted by marginalization. Though RIU is focused on and driven by the youth, a large part of our work includes helping adult family members, educators, and community leaders understand the ways in which systemic oppression shapes our perceptions of and interactions with the young people in our homes, neighborhoods, institutions, and decision-making bodies.