Stay Solid! A Radical Handbook for Youth is a cool and awesome handbook written by and for activist youth and the adult allies who want to empower them. The unique voices of over 160 contributors embody a no-nonsense approach that—refreshingly—does not apologize for its “left/socialist/anarchist/anti-capitalist world-view.” The contributors agree that current dominant ideologies are oppressive but candidly endorse the notion that revolutionary change is possible: “As long as there has been oppression, there has been resistance.”
This activist masterpiece for youth was conceived by Matt Hern and an editorial collective with connections to the Purple Thistle, an independent youth-run community center in East Vancouver started in 2000 and still going strong. Using the collective model, Hern and an editorial group of 12 each took sections and began to seek out diverse voices speaking to various topics. There are 21 subjects covered in this book, reflecting the crucial questions activists continue to grapple with as we watch corporations become “citizens” and global capitalism decimate our planet.
Most of the topic areas that are explored will come as no surprise to older activists, because to be quite blunt, these are the arenas in which some of our endeavors have, thus far, sucked. A diverse array of youthful voices examines issues like race, class, indigenous struggles, ecocide, relationships, media, family, community and immigration, to name just a few. As one anonymous anarchist writer states, “Young people have always been at the forefronts of everything revolutionary, be it music or art or overthrowing governments.”
Further revolutionizing Stay Solid!, the collective uses a scrapbook style of narrative, poetry, cartoons, zines and graphics. A radical dismantling of the traditional narrative style invigorates this work, creating multiple ways to embrace these ideas. Each section is followed by a list of suggested readings, making this old fogey activist nostalgic about the first time she read bell hooks, Marx and Engels, Audre Lourde and Henry David Thoreau.
This handbook is loaded with ideas, groups, links to websites, and downright good, old-fashioned activist advice. Here, the overriding assumption is that if our youth are empowered, they will create change that is truly revolutionary, making this world a more socially just place for all sentient beings. No small task that, but Stay Solid! gives me a glimmer of hope that an ethical, fair and just world might be possible after all.