Politically active students lead the way

November 24, 2020 — by Atrey Desai

As I sat browsing my Instagram earlier this year, my eyes glazed over the normal pictures and polls until something caught my eye: a graphic on Black Lives Matter. Intrigued, I read more about the movement and clicked on the next story. Another graphic, this time on deportation and the DACA program. 

I started counting how many posts on my feed were related to political and social issues: in total, 15 of 28. 

I have always loved to read the news and learn more about political events, good or bad. As a toddler, I used to mimic my dad reading the paper newspaper on the couch, even though I didn’t understand a thing it said. Even today, the first thing I do after waking up is getting a bowl of cereal and opening the Morning Briefing newsletter from The New York Times. Until this year, many of my classmates questioned my fascination with news and politics. 

I remember one time in seventh grade when a friend of mine said that politics is for adults and I shouldn’t be worrying about civic issues.

This kind of attitude worried me. At 12, I may not have understood the complexities of the issues as well as I do now, but I still realized that voting is important to democracy, and if my peers didn’t care about global issues, it could spell trouble in the future.

This all changed this in 2020. With many people stuck at home because of COVID-19 and the November elections and social unrest dominating headlines, I saw a growing trend of my peers starting to follow the news and speak out about their opinions. 

One specific event that caught my eyes was the unrest after the killing of George Floyd. I saw #blacklivesmatter wherever I went on the internet, whether in a Google Hangouts chat with my friends or on Facebook. On Instagram, I saw many of my peers, who I thought were apolitical,  change their profile pictures to a black square in solidarity with the movement, donate to causes combating police brutality and express opinions in bold text on their stories.

Many of those same people went to a march in front of the City Hall soon after and pushed the school district to offer more education about racial inequities in America. 

While I am usually the type to take in information and not amplify to a larger audience, I did try to become more active in the community. I gave information on various social issues to many of my friends, many of whom weren’t aware of events like the march and made a commitment to read more into world issues rather than glossing over the headlines. 

Most importantly, I started talking with my family about these issues again and got a chance to adapt my own views based on the past experiences of my family members.

I welcome this change of pace. For a democracy to be fully functional, its citizens need to be informed and ready to make good decisions, whether through information gathered through traditional news outlets or social media. 

2020 has objectively been a horrible year. Every month brings a new disaster whether it be a new COVID-19 hotspot or wildfires raging across the West Coast. However, this new movement of more politically active young people is one of the few trends that I hope will continue well beyond this year. 

 

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