In the 1970s youth were viewed as both predatory and dangerous and in succeeding generations they were increasingly marginalized, terrorized, and written out of the social contract. The United States is one of the few countries in the world that puts children in supermax prisons, tries them as adults, incarcerates them for exceptionally long periods of time, defines them as “super predators,” pepper sprays them for engaging in peaceful protests, and describes them as “teenage time bombs.” More recently, it has been reported that hundreds of Native American children in the United States and even more Indigenous children in Canada in government and reservation schools were not only separated from their families but also abused physically, emotionally, and sexually. Many others died in these genocidal factories and were buried in unmarked graves. The legacy of violence against children of color runs deep in the United States. Viewed as a long-term investment, they are defined under neoliberalism as both an economic liability and a drain on the resources needed to concentrate wealth in the hands of the ruling classes and financial elite.
What has changed is that the range of laws and sites in which a war is now waged on young people has moved from the streets to all of the major institution in which they inhabit. No space is safe for underserved young people. Schools for poor kids of color are largely modeled after prisons; books are banned; teachers are under siege for not subscribing to the whitewashing of history; public institutions are defunded; tax credits for poor kids are rescinded; student debt forecloses the future of many young people; white supremacists now enact laws against those youth, especially transgender youth, whose sexual orientation and identity do not fit into a white, Christian orthodox notion of both heteronormativity and a regressive notion of who qualifies as a citizen. Under such circumstance, it is not surprising that in a report published in the medical journal The Lancet “The United States ranks lower than 38 other countries on measurements of children’s survival, health, education and nutrition — and every country in the world has levels of excess carbon emissions that will prevent younger generations from a healthy and sustainable future.”
Inequality, precarity, and moral depravity are now written into the DNA of American politics and those who suffer the most from this form of necropolitics are youth of color and poor working-class youth. Written out of the script of democracy, youth are seeing their future cancelled. Unsurprisingly, a 2021 poll released by the Harvard University Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics stated that “52% of young people in the U.S. believe that the country’s democracy is either ‘in trouble’ or ‘a failed democracy.’ Just 7% said that democracy in the United States is ‘healthy.’” Capitalism in its neoliberal fascist register has not only defined young people as the enemy, it is also preparing them for a life of uncertainty, stupidity, ignorance and conformity. And while the future is open and domination is not the only register of power, there has never been a more important historical moment for young people to rise up and fight for a notion of agency, justice, and equality that offers them both hope, freedom, and a sense of equality and justice.The War on Youth in the Age of Fascist Politics – CounterPunch.org