What an experience to say the least. I am eternally grateful for being chosen to share my idea about making sure youth voice is included in the larger environmental movement.
The highlight of the talk was being able to bring two youth of color on stage with me so that they can share their wisdom and their perspective on the larger environmental movement. Xitlaly and Daisy want to remind you:
“do I deserve to be exposed to dangerous environments because I’m brown OR do i deserve to breathe polluted air because of the color of my skin. What are we gonna do about this problem…. what are YOU gonna do about it”
We cannot have conversation about climate change and climate justice without the valuable voices of youth, specifically youth of color. Youth want to be included. Youth cannot vote on policies that impact their future until they are of voting age. Youth are the ones who have the expertise to produce knowledge to our world — not just professional adult researchers but young people who are living the issues they are studying.
Youth want change: Youth of color are eager to learn and make their communities better. Youth want nice playgrounds and trees in their communities. They understand the disparities they see when they go to “nice white neighborhoods and they have playgrounds with shade and grass” Youth of color have innovative solutions to combat environmental injustice. The ones where youth are cleaning beaches in India, recycling and repurposing old materials in Thailand, or using social media platforms like Blackmillenials4flint on instagram that engage with their followers about the impact on environmental injustice.
Lastly, youth CARE about their planet. They CARE about the future of this planet Youth want change. Youth care a lot more than most people think. Youth have sociopolitical development and psychological empowerment such that they understand the roots of problems facing their communities and have the skills and motivation to take action. Youth are the future. The future of this planet if their future. We MUST do better.
I call on you all to now think about how you are using your power and privilege to make room for youth of color to be at the table when conversing about the larger environmental movement. Thanks for coming to my TEDxCCC talk.