In the 21st century, it can be hard to believe that the public can hear our voices and opinions. Our lives are filled with social media influencers, societal norms dictating our capabilities and endless views on whether one’s opinion is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. We are also finding ourselves being slammed with convoluted statements and policies by people in power without the slightest understanding. These events have progressed to the extent that it is no longer hard to imagine a biased society, where a single and incomplete story is told which knowledge is based off. And with growing concerns about our political, financial, environmental and structural stability, our future will soon rely on our guidance and leadership. What we do with this responsibility is up to us.
Our society has evolved through endless decades, periods and ages. So many years have gone by, yet few are remembered for single moments; the uprisings and the peaceful protests, the mass shootings and the moments of silence, the selfless losses and historic victories. We have endured all of history together, as a single person working towards a better future. Today, it seems we no longer consider ourselves a cohesive society, but fractured groups of people. We no longer view ourselves as one but have divided over hopes of power, influence and personal benefit. For those in power, it is easy to overlook those who must fight for the simplest of things. Amidst this imbalance, our deafening pleas and words fall upon deaf ears.
For most of us, gaining respect and earning the opportunities that others are simply handed is never easy. Although I have not experienced such hardships to the extent which others have, I am familiar with the feeling of exclusion because my differences make me stand out, not ‘fit it’. Despite our best efforts, society continues to characterize people by their race, gender, sexual identity, religion and more, which somehow justifies the mistreatment of countless people. Such issues have been brought to the public’s attention through targeted shootings, hateful remarks and messages through social media and more. Although this attention has sparked human right’s related outreach efforts globally, is this enough?
In the past, minority voices were silenced continuously. They were deemed unimportant and not worthy of being listened to, no matter how compelling their words were. Now more than ever, it is essential for youth to understand that we can be heard. As a Human Rights and Equity committee council co-chair for my school board, I have learned that my input is valuable in making decisions that will benefit our schools. Our stories and messages can resist oppression and speak volumes, paving the way for others to do the same. Because if we don’t take a stand, we will be left at the mercy of others who will continue to overlook pressing issues in today’s time. So take action; stand up and speak out.