How To Be a Political Activist (Even If You're Too Young to Vote)
Don't you wish you could vote on something other than The Voice? I know I do. Let's talk about how, but first let me introduce myself. I’m Veronica-Marie, a short, low key sweet Latina girl from the projects in NYC. My hair is typically a frizz ball; most days I love it, other days I just poke it and pretend it isn't alive.
I’m part of a huge Latin-American family, complete with Sazon, Marc Anthony, and Catholicism. I am a "Guaterican" (a magical mix of Guatemalan and Puerto Rican).
So I'm walking to school, my best bud Lassiter, a trans black man at my side. We're laughing and walking, when I hear the sound of gravel shifting under a slowly rolling patrol car. Sweat gathers at my palms. Maybe I shouldn't have worn my hair natural today. Maybe Lass should take down his hoodie. Maybe we're walking too fast, maybe we're too suspicious. Maybe we're too brown. Maybe we're too intimidating.
If you're like me, the state of the nation is giving you anxiety. In a time where a bigot represents our America, we all can feel a little lost, a little targeted. As a low-income, brown, bisexual girl, every day feels like a threat. It's frustrating knowing I was just a year away from making a difference in this past election. But I make it my job to be involved with politics. It's not a choice, not an offer, not an option. It's a must.
I have power, and it's written into the foundation of our country. My power is my voice. I'm a teenager, yes, but every civil rights movement started with youth, and history has its eyes on us. One person is stronger when joined by people willing to make a difference; one voice is but a whisper without others to chime in; one signature means nothing without others. We all need to participate in this revolution. And yes, there's no denial. It is a revolution.
There will be 22 million of us who will be able to vote in our first presidential election in 2020. I'm part of an initiative called YVote, through which teenagers with different economic, racial, and political backgrounds are connecting our passions and beliefs with how we can make a difference, at and beyond the ballot box.
We've teamed up with The Learning About Multimedia Project (The LAMP), an organization that focuses on youth media literacy—no easy task in this fake news world we live in. The LAMP’s new 22x20 campaign focuses on making the youth voice heard throughout this nation.
We're empowering each other to speak up. We need to think critically about the world around us. We are surrounded by information every second of our lives, so we must filter for the truth. Stay woke. If you can be picky about your makeup, be picky about the info in your head. Your intellectual mind will save this nation.
Imagine the difference we can make. 22 million pairs of feet stomping at the doors of injustice, 22 million phone calls about a law, 22 millions votes. Call your council members and representatives. Start a petition. March and picket and get your voice heard. Get our voices heard. Tomorrow. And the day after, and all the days of our future. Think of all the ways we will change our world. Join us as we take steps to make change.
By Veronica Vasquez, Age 17