At our Action Conference in March, PJALS Steering Committee member and YALP grad Taylor Weech moderated a panel with three young activists: Charlie Johansen is a Cheney High School student who graduated from our Young Activist Leaders Program last year. Jaclyn Acher is an EWU student. Emanuel Flores is a member of Young Emerging Labor Leaders. Here are some excerpts from the conversation from my notes! — Liz
What is your vision you’re working toward?
Equity and strong communities. ~ Charlie Johansen.
Cultural awareness and not living in ideological monoculture – Jaclyn Archer.
Everyone should be able to go to work and be paid fairly and not bullied – Emanuel Flores.
What do you need from older activists? What do you not need?
I need your wisdom …not your cynicism. ~ Charlie.
I need scaffolding and practical support, help with organizing. I don’t need to be told what my generation needs. ~ Jaclyn.
I need understanding. I’m young and I have an opinion. Give me the opportunity to learn. ~ Manny
What gives you hope? What is most disheartening to you?
Community is essential. The most disheartening thing is futility and the systems that are in place and the disproportionate amount of power some people have. – Charlie
When regular folks have that aha moment and realize if they don’t get active, nothing good is going to happen. The most demobilizing thing is cynicism. Can’t stand it. — Judith
What I find disempowering is calls to revolution without practical follow-up. The empowering thing is: Together we will continue. We are not alone, and the persistence is continuing. — Jaclyn
The most disheartening thing for me is being told, “You failed.” What helps me is addressing my elders and getting a rub on the back. Mistakes are how you learn. — Manny
After their initial remarks, keynote speaker Judith LeBlanc joined the panel for discussion with the audience.
Question from the audience — How do we rid our movement of ego?
Ask — Am I doing this to help myself or my pride or for the whole? — Manny
You need to keep the movement accountable and be able to be critical. It’s about continuing education in activist spaces and expanding into a broader and closer knit movement. — Charlie
The key is strong collectives who believe in and practice consensus building. — Judith
We’ve got to look for the best out of all of us. — Charlie
Humility & intellectual honesty. — Jaclyn
What challenge will you end with?
Work on organizing someone new, let them be exposed to education. — Manny
Let’s extend beyond our intellectual monoculture, even when we believe we’re in a great, moral place. Exercise empathetic imagination. — Jaclyn
Don’t accept microagressions in your life just because they don’t affect you personally. But don’t hold onto them for the rest of forever. Resentment is detrimental to you and the movement. — Charlie
Let’s develop strategic plans. Let’s think through and talk out strategy with our vision and with practicality. We need to be moving the majority. — Judith