Thank you for coming to my blog as I identify the latest, noteworthy happenings as I see them. This is NOT a twitter post. You will NOT read it in 140 characters or less. It is NOT a Facebook status. There is no need to “Like” it, unless you are really moved to. It is a blog. And, it requires time and reading. Whether these happenings are germane to politics or are indirectly influenced by our understanding of politics. life or anything else, they are happening everyday and I want to talk about them, and I need you to know they exist. I am interested in perspective. Take the poll when you finish.
While everything happening in the media may not be accurate, factual, or remotely close to the truth, people are hearing about what’s going on. Although people (maybe even you reading this blog) will not “have the time” to read this post in its entirety because we are all too busy being busy, we are getting sound bites of what’s happening in our communities and our world. These sound bites infiltrate our intimate spaces called perspectives; and, we take them and spread them around like a plague. Are we wrong for having been conditioned to need to have a statement rendered in 140 characters or less? When we make personal choices to get involved in a public phenomena, must there be someone there to “Like” it before those actions are considered activism? Are we interested in the change or the display?
This past weekend I was in Los Angeles, California on the campus of UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) with the Tavis Smiley Foundation and its Youth 2 Leaders Leadership Institute. On Friday, the delegates watched a film called, The Revolutionary Optimists about a group of Indian youth using their activism to bring changes to their local communities. Following the movie, I led a discussion about the movie’s themes, but primarily about the role [and absence] of youth-led activism. When asked if they believed today’s youth were doing enough to contribute to our society–helping to fix some of our most pressing issues through their activism, some of the delegates said outright, “No.” Other students provided explanations such as shyness, fear, the need for instant gratification, and complacency as reasons why there is not enough activism coming from the youth. And, then it was stated that social media was not effective in solving problems. And, so I began to think, “we spend all of our extra time on social media, and young people don’t even think it is effective.” Wow!
Clearly this country has seen its share of youth-led activism before social media was even a thought. In the 60s there was SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, with the operative word being student. In the late 60s and early 70s, there was the Black Panther Party for Self Defense which was made up of teens and very young adults. Despite not lasting very long, we can say that these groups left a lasting commentary on the changes that can happen when young people get involved as change agents. Although there was no social media prior, besides the good ol’ word of mouth, each youth-led movement has used the tools at its disposal to spread the word, garner support, and take action.
In the 21st Century, youth-led activism, some would argue, is not the same as it was during the modern Civil Rights Movement. Some would even argue that there is no activism happening today because we don’t see the barrage of marches, sit-ins, arrests, etc. And to them, I would challenge getting to know what some of the Youth 2 Leaders Delegates have done. Or, do an analysis of events that have taken place on a wide and global scale like Occupy Wall Street and what’s happening right now in our beloved Florida. The Dream Defenders are staging a sit-in to contest Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law” as a result of the shameful Trayvon Martin verdict. Even worse is that the same shameful system that would deny justice to Trayvon Martin is the same system that has attempted to deny the Dream Defenders access to basic necessities like food as they demonstrate their First Amendment Right to assemble . SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! How do we know about these happenings? The media. Why do we know about Oscar Grant’s untimely and savage murder at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California? Social media.
We will never experience much of what we do today as a passing moment, because in the era of social media, our every thought and expression is caught on someone’s waiting media device. In that regard, I guess we are all activists as we make personal choices to curtail behavior and thoughts that could very well end up in public view due to social media.
To learn more about the movie Fruitvale Station, follow the latest on twitter at @ForestWhitaker @fruitvalemovie
To learn more about the Tavis Smiley and the Tavis Smiley Foundation follow the latest on twitter @tavissmiley @youthtoleaders
For more information about the Dream Defenders follow them on twitter @Dreamdefenders or follow this link to learn more: http://t.co/sIgnmR5IhD