Young people have always played a prominent role in the movements for peace and justice. Everywhere in the world, youth and students have been in the forefront struggling with other progressive movements for revolutionary demands, social justice and national liberation.

Young people today are carrying on that tradition with their energy, passion, courage and commitment in the fight against the Bush administration, the ultra-right and the Republican Party — all reactionary influences that continually try to divide the working class and prevent a broad consolidated youth voice.

Students and young workers are two major forces in the broad alliance that is needed to deal a decisive blow to the backward policies of our current political leaders.

The idea of multiracial unity is not alien or invisible to young people. On the contrary, the desire for unity explains why youth and students become involved in struggle. Many times young people are motivated to fight for change because they are victims of some type of social injustice and realize they can stand up for what’s right.

Racial and national oppression, criminalization and police brutality, privatization and lack of quality educational opportunities, gangs and community violence, and drug abuse and institutional poverty are real problems that keep young people from moving forward in life.

Gang violence and street warfare in poor neighborhoods, mostly communities of color, and immigrant communities, are perpetuated by a racist economic system that feeds off the oppression, exploitation and misery of the working class.

War abroad, cuts to financial assistance for college, no jobs, no unions, and communities without affordable housing, well-funded schools, recreation, arts programs and youth centers — these are just some of the daily problems that affect the social and political development of youth.

Such challenges are not easy to solve and struggling is often exhausting, requiring self-sacrifice. For many youth, solutions seem impossible to achieve. Building youth unity is a long and challenging process.

Young people everywhere face the daily pressure of surviving and staying alive in a world dominated by an economic system built on their sweat and blood.

To answer these challenges, young people are joining with labor, movements of the racially and nationally oppressed, women and other democratic movements to fight for real change. By building unity of all young people — regardless of nationality, cultural identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political philosophy or economic background — youth and students can help create a powerful force offering a vision and hope for revolutionary change. Young people bring their own spirit and energy to this struggle.

Building unity among youth and students requires offering hope and truth. Aligned with all progressive forces, young people can help lead us on a path to victory against the enemies of peace and social progress. The times ask for nothing less.

Pepe Lozano (plozano@pww.org), a staff writer for the People’s Weekly World, is a leader of the Young Communist League in Chicago.

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