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June 2020

Our team condemns the anti-Blackness and brutality exhibited by police which continue a pattern against Black communities. 

One of the central values and guiding principles of CIRCLE’s work is listening to young people, centering their experiences, and supporting their participation and leadership in solving the problems that affect them and their communities.

We also know from decades of scholarship, that young people’s civic engagement is shaped by their experiences with public institutions. For too many Black youth and other young people of color this includes being unjustly targeted by the criminal justice system, and often being attacked or dismissed when they raise their voices against injustice. This vicious circle can chip away at young people’s belief in themselves, that their experiences matter, and that they matter. We want to affirm, loud and clear, that they do matter. As such, we believe there’s a need for more attention to systemic issues that affect Black youth development in and out of school including school disciplinary systems, access to sustainable programs focused on healing and socio-emotional learning in education, and other efforts to support young people of color’s political voices.

We hope you will join us in supporting and amplifying these calls, which have long been made by educators and organizers, and in listening to and following our Black and African-American colleagues in the field and leading in communities.  We trust in the expertise of people who are affected the most by these systemic challenges—young black people—to lead the way in generating policies and other solutions. We commit to providing research and data to support their leadership, continue the practice of self-reflection and listening, and improve how we show up in ways that center youth of color and confront systemic racism.

It is our collective role to co-create the democracy and the communities in which we want to live—where Black lives matter. We reaffirm our commitment to supporting young people trying to do just that. 

Thank you for joining us in these efforts,

What We're Reading

As a follow-up to our statement about anti-Blackness in the U.S. and in nominally civic spaces, we are sharing some of what we’re reading, reflecting on, and using to inform when/how we act. These research pieces are about the centering of whiteness in social studies, the relationship between schools and incarceration, and the relationship between incarceration and civic engagement. This is a selected list of the many different researchers and scholars writing about these important topics.

If you have suggestions for other work or would like to share thoughts with us on the relationship between anti-Blackness and youth civic and political engagement, you can write our team at