We are committed to working for a world where young people from historically oppressed communities are engaged in movements for social justice and resistance. We see our work as movement building, as intersectionally bound to other movements around the world, and as historically tied to the work of generations before us. To sustain collective participation in social change, we need to be able to grow and build together. We want to provide spaces where young people can explore and heal from trauma and historical oppression while they transform their communities.
We bring youth and their communities together to engage critically in power and privilege. We want young people to feel powerful, whole, and affirmed, whether this is by accessing services, pursuing learning opportunities, or sustaining relationships with each other and communities of resistance. H.O.L.L.A! facilitates young people’s journeys to power through relationship building, community organizing, political education, and providing resources.
Standing on Histories of Struggle and Resistance for Liberation
Standing on ancestral cultural wisdom and heritage, our community organizing recognizes contemporary oppression/injustice and trauma as connected to historical struggles and resistance for liberation. H.O.L.L.A! understands our organizing as a continuation of movements for justice around the world.
We believe that people in the movement and historically oppressed people enact courage in big and small ways. Whether by choosing to live against the norm, or by surviving in it, we are brave in our resistance to systems of power that are intentionally trying to suffocate us and our communities.
Courage is also necessary to articulate and act on critical resistance. We need courage to stand against institutional violence and demand change; we need courage to confront internalized oppression and insist that we are worthy; we need courage to love and protect our co-strugglers. We believe that to love ourselves and our families is an act of political resistance, and that we use courage to resist every day.
We believe community transformation to be an outcome of youth community organizing. Community transformation is a political strategy for analyzing and redirecting power away from white supremacist, heteronormative, and capitalist structures. It serves as a praxis for centralizing and making visible resources and socio-economic-political power within poor communities of color, while decreasing dependence/reliance on resources and socio-economic-political power maintained by mainstream institutions, such as the police, education system, policy makers, employers, and government.
Community transformation is a framework for including the experiences and voices of all (privileging those directly impacted) within the community. It is a foundation for responding to interpersonal community violence with non-punitive strategies, engaging in collective healing, developing indigenous strategies for individual and collective accountability, and respecting, promoting, and following the wisdom and direction of historically marginalized youth of color.
A Youth-Led movement is both a philosophy and practice. We are invested in cultivating and sustaining the leadership of historically marginalized youth of color and their communities. We have developed an organizational structure (i.e., from our Board of Directors to our horizontal organizational leadership model) that is built on tapping into the leadership, direction, and wisdom of youth organizers. We recognize the critical role youth play in struggles and resistance. Youth have and continue to be at the forefront of social change movements for Human and Environmental Justice. At H.O.L.L.A! we affirm and celebrate the importance of movements led by historically marginalized youth of color.
We believe that in order to create sustainable transformations in our communities, we need to work with multiple generations. As we stand on histories and affirm the wisdom of young people, we recognize that trauma, strategies for resistance, and wisdom travel across generations. Inter-generational work can therefore be an incredible resource for movement building.
We also believe that multi-generational organizing gives us more power to project our vision into the future: we need to build sustainable and lasting connections, and continue to develop a wealth of knowledge that will help us resist and heal. Building community is an intergenerational process, so adult organizers in H.O.L.L.A! facilitate and sustain youth leadership development by co-creating an intentional organizational atmosphere that is youth led, but holds space for wisdom that travels through time.
Human Justice is an outcome driven philosophy and resistance movement created by the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions (CNUS). It aims to deconstruct the prison industrial complex by redirecting human, financial, and political resources away from punishment oriented justice system, and towards long-term sustainable solutions for socio-economic-political equity. H.O.L.L.A! stands on the Human Justice philosophy that uses intersectional strategies for youth leadership development and youth community organizing. Human Justice is a strategy for raising consciousness and resisting the implicit and explicit ways racism, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, ageism, ableism, and immigration/citizenship status shape the lives and experiences of poor communities of color. Regardless of race/ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability, and/or immigration/citizenship status, Human Justice is an analytical framework and practice of protecting the rights of the most marginalized youth, individuals, groups and communities, and their developments as humans—as we work in collaboration with each other towards collective liberation and freedom.
H.O.L.L.A! fights for gender justice and gender equity in all aspects of our work. We know the real and material consequences that sexism and heteropatriarchy have in our lives and on our blocks. We see it in the unequal access young women of color have to reproductive health care. We know it from the multiple jobs our mothers in our community hold. We know Black and brown women are more likely to end up in poverty than any other group. We feel it as police harass our transgender neighbors, family members, and friends. We know that gender inequality affects all of us – LGBTQ individuals, cis-men, cis-women, and the vast spectrum of gender identities. We believe that our own liberation is tied to eradicating sexism and heteropatriachy and the way it interlocks with other systems of oppression. This means that in our work we demand that gender be part of the analysis. We demand that the expertise of all women – stemming from generations of struggle and survival – be recognized as part of the solution.
Environmental and Development Justice
We know that the systems that commit violence against oppressed peoples from their socio-economic-political power are the same systems that rob us of resources, earth, food, and self-determined paths to development. We want to work towards transformative ways of relating to our natural resources, and see the climate crisis as intrinsically tied to racism and capitalism. Resource extraction is the foundational violence of the systemic oppression that we struggle against today, from the closure of the commons and the genocide of indigenous peoples, to the Scramble for Africa.
We therefore recognize that climate, environment, and “development” has everything to do with imperialism and colonialism. Injustice is not bound by national borders. These systems work in tandem to oppress people of color by taking resources from poor and non-European communities to fuel power and privilege. We understand domestic struggles as echoes of the global need for developmental justice, or a redirection of power towards justice for the poor, women, and people of color. H.O.L.L.A! believes in the self-determination of historically oppressed peoples, and this demands an intersectional strategy that grapples with the international scope of resource extraction and abuse.
We believe healing is a necessary political foundation for youth community organizing. It is critical for maintaining mass movements and disrupting dominant systems of oppression. Borrowing from Shawn Ginwright’s work on youth development with historically marginalized and underserved youth of color, we re-affirm the importance of radical healing.
Healing is a political act of resistance. Recognizing that trauma travels across generations, inflicting harm/pain on our minds, bodies, and spirits, we know that oppression not only limits structural opportunities for individuals, collective growth and socio-economic-political power, but also diminishes hope, contributes to internalized oppression/racism, and allows for interpersonal community violence.
Radical healing is understood as a practice of love and care. This includes consciousness raising, imagination, and political action for social change. It is critical for intersectional justice in the midst of disinvestment and oppression.
H.O.L.L.A! is inspired, educated, and reminded by Audre Lorde of the importance radical healing when she boldly and eloquently declared, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”