People have been speaking for centuries. In fact, some people have been yelling to the top of their lungs, and unfortunately (in far too many instances) to no avail. Matthew Hindman, in his new book on The Myth of Digital Democracy concludes his argument with a stark but honest lesson. “It may be easy to speak in cyberspace, but it remains difficult to be heard.” As we progress further into the 21st century we find more than ever, young marginalized groups screaming out to be heard on the Internet, but also in life. Now more than ever youth have the ability to access avenues that allow for the potentiality of their voice to be recognized by new audiences. Unfortunately, this potential often falls short and youth voice once again stumbles onto deaf ears.
In South Africa I was encouraged and given hope by observing how young people protest. I would say to myself, “If only youth in America would be so passionate about changing the society they live in.” However, I must take a step back and not ignore the history of young people screaming out for justice and equality in this country. I cannot ignore the myriad of political sore throats that were inherited somewhere between inter-generational struggle and cycles of poverty. I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that young people continue to be silenced even in a moment in history when the potential to having your voice heard is only a mouse click away.
We must support the youth that still have the strength to scream out to systems that don’t acknowledge their existence. There is still a remnant of young people organizing their communities for social change in this country. I was introduced to one of these organizations a couple weeks ago, when I went to a teach-in that educated me about my university’s fiscal priority and social abandonment. FLY (Fearless Leading by the Youth) is an emerging youth group that is fighting to make the lives of people in their community better. They are now working on what is being called the “Trauma Center Campaign.”
On their Facebook page they give background information on this issue:
“We lost one of our founders, Damian Turner [last year]. It was not just the stray bullet that killed him. Damian, a youth leader in the struggle for human rights, was a victim of the system he was fighting against. U of C Medical Center closed their trauma center in 1988 because it was losing them $1.5million/year. They get close to $60 million / year in tax breaks and are building a new $700+ million research building. We intend to make sure that the UCMC, as the most well-resourced hospital on the south side [and in the country], gives back to our community and fills the gap in trauma care.” (For more information on this visit their Facebook page)
Some institutions do not want these young people to be heard, but I implore all those reading not to fall into the same pattern of complacency. We (students, community members, politicians, professors, ect) cannot allow the continued subjugation of disenfranchised voices. If you are in Chicago, support FLY. They are having a protest for the Trauma Center, which will be this Thursday, April 21st where they will be at 61st and Cottage at 2:30pm.
Here is a moment where young people are picking up the torches of former generations and demanding to be heard. Let us not allow this moment to pass frivolously.