Time for solidarity – and youth safety – in the face of hateful violence

All of us at RAP stand in solidarity with Black people, Latinx people, Jewish people, gay, queer or bisexual people, trans or gender non-conforming people and all other people targeted by white supremacists. While we are all horrified by the way white supremacy and fascism are being not only permitted but emboldened by our current administration, we are not surprised, we are not afraid to act, and we are certainly more motivated than ever to protect the youth we serve.

This weekend’s acts of domestic terrorism impact our youth so deeply. They fear for themselves, their families and our world in a way that we might be too jaded to feel. And they are being given every reason to worry: while the Unite the Right rally took place in Charlottesville, Va., nine more are lined up over the coming weeks, and just last night, a group of alt-right counter-protesters yelled racial epithets at people marching up New York City’s Fifth Avenue for diversity and love.

We seek to help the most marginalized youth among us bring about the very equity the alt-right activists so deeply fear. However, as we have been reminded this weekend, they not only need adult support, but our protection, to make this change. They need RAP, now, more than ever.

In recent days, I have seen some of the most brilliant youth leaders I know retreat from social media after being targeted with vicious messages of hate. We are committed to providing them with secure communication technology and safe places to meet. We are committed to giving them platforms to be heard but also mobilizing adults to advocate on their behalf when the danger gets too real. We will love them, we will counsel them and we will ensure their basic needs are met as this fight for the soul of our country escalates. Youth organizations like RAP need your support to get to work ensuring none of the amazing young leaders we work with face similar threats.

There are a number of such organizations doing the work in Virginia that we should uplift in this moment. City of Promise is a neighborhood-based program in Charlottesville that offers skills and support to pave the way for children’s academic success and families’ life-long well-being. Great Expectations works throughout the state of Virginia to help foster youth (a vulnerable and diverse population of young people) transition to work and community college. African-American Teaching Fellows seeks to ensure the young people of Charlottesville see themselves in the teachers they look up to. This google doc is a living document that includes many, many more places you can help Charlottesville heal from racist hate.

As a member of our community, we also want you to know: we at RAP are here here for you, we support you, and we want to continue to move forward in community with you as we continue this fight for social justice. If you are or know a person of color that needs to engage in self-care to heal after this traumatizing weekend, please check out this amazing resource. If you want to do something right now to make a difference in the lives of youth of color with RAP, join us as a Group Facilitator.

RAP strives to be inclusive and anti-racist, both in the work that we do and the community we nurture. Our mission matters now more than ever, and we hope that you find some strength in this community, as we all find strength in you. Please join us in deepening our resolve to defend and love low-income youth of color, so they can continue to not only show resilience, but thrive. Hate will not win.

Love and solidarity,

Khadijah and the rest of the RAP staff