“I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.” –Malcolm X
I am not confident that my time at Young People For’s National Summit can be adequately summarized. I don’t know if anything I write can portray the love, inspiration, beauty, depth, and heart of the most amazing group of people I’ve ever been surrounded by. I’m not sure that I can properly express the awe I have for this group, but I can try.
The opportunity to listen to the words of activists and community leaders like Marilyn Mosby and Samantha Master stirred in me a hope for the future, for tangible change in our communities, and a true sense of possibility. As cliché as these thoughts may sound, I truly saw these actions in my contemporaries, YP4 staff, and alumni. Our work is often thankless and tireless, although critical to uplifting and encouraging others, especially one another.
The value of the space created at the National Summit is to me best summarized by the words of activist Linda Sarsour; “I see you.” The opposition, violence, hate, systemic oppression and persecution we work to overcome can become silencing and heavy. At this convening, our differences in race, religion, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, and socioeconomic status were truly recognized, and celebrated, rather than ignored. In this recognition, I felt my understanding of intersectionality come to fruition; we are stronger as a whole, no person or group can be ignored or left behind in our journey forward. We must recognize, acknowledge, and celebrate our differences to better our communities and to better ourselves. In the words of Oprah (or Abbi Abrams), I had an “Aha moment” in further understanding and shaping the lens through which I see others.
To my fellow YP4 fellows, I see you, I thank you, and I love you. I can’t adequately put into words the appreciation I have for the critical conversations, the laughs, and the tears. From any wary observer of the millennial generation, to harmful FOX news pundits, to elected officials who work to silence our vote and enact laws that harm our communities; I challenge you to find a group who is more committed, intelligent, empathetic, informed, and active than the YP4 community. We aren’t apathetic, inactive, or ignorant. We’re enacting radical progressive change in all forms, all across the United States and this world. We’re influential, committed, and we aren’t going anywhere.