Even as we hurt, we hoped. Even as we hurt, we healed.

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried. That we’ll forever be tied together victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.”

Amanda Gorman, 2021 Inaugural Poet

During the US Presidential Inauguration ceremony, the youngest Inaugural Poet and the first National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman reminded USers, “being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.” She is clear about her power, our collective power, to move into the future centering justice and refusing “the norms and notions of what ‘just is.’” She names the imperative for us all to step into our past and heal it.

No person is born agreeing to oppress others or be oppressed.

People come into the world with an innate sense of justice. Humans are born holding a perspective of hope and possibility. We begin our human journey open to heartbreak because it is the path to loving and living fully. Young people embody and reflect this humanity most clearly: they have experienced and internalized less accumulated hurt; they have more access to healing. If you have ever spent time in the presence of a young person, especially little young ones, you know this is true.

It takes the systematic and institutionalized mistreatment of young people known as adultism for any of us to internalize and act on any other picture of ourselves and our world. It takes the force of adultism for us to believe the misinformation that any human being is inferior or superior. It takes the pervasiveness of adultism for us to treat any group of human beings as less than or better than another.  

We entered the world clear about our significance and ability to make things go well—for us and those around us. Unhealed adultism left us doubting our goodness and thinking. Unhealed adultism often prevents us from standing up to injustice and feeling confused by and colluding with oppression.

Even as we hurt, we need to heal.

Adultism is not a made-up oppression or attempt to claim some fictional “victimhood.” It’s a lived experience that most young people will attest to when they can tell they are safe, loved, and secure in their belonging. Without a language to name it, understand how it operates or its effects, we are left to internalize the hurts and be resigned to the outcomes. It is not inevitable, though. It is not a “given.” It’s not what it means to be a child. We can create a world without adultism: by giving it language and voice, by being indignant at the injustice, by allowing ourselves to feel the full effect of it and finally heal from it. It’s an act of empowerment, an essential and principled step to putting the world right for all.


We are currently offering multiple ways to learn more about adultism and committing to heal from it. Please join us for any of the following offerings:

Stopping the Cycle of Oppression virtual workshop, March 2–4, 2021
Registration deadline: February 11, 2021

Stopping the Cycle of Oppression on-demand webinar, available now

Healing Together Winter Series, part of our monthly dana offerings: