As a teen, it can be easy to get whisked into a conversation you may later realize you didn’t agree with. Peer pressure and a still forming sense of self can make it difficult to advocate for what …
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As a teen, it can be easy to get whisked into a conversation you may later realize you didn’t agree with. Peer pressure and a still forming sense of self can make it difficult to advocate for what you know is right. This, however, combined with recent current events, makes it all the more critical to speak up in moments where fear or apathy might convince you to be a bystander.
In a tumultuous world, it is all the more necessary to be equipped with the appropriate amount of confidence and boldness to persevere in situations of bigotry or discrimination. When someone says something that looks to discriminate or misrepresent another group, you as a young adult have the power to say “no” to hatred. There are several ways you can make a difference.
When something is voiced that is destructive, don’t laugh, approve, or validate the comment. Similarly, try to speak with an open mind that doesn’t look to put down a group with an identity different than your own. Try to emulate cultural empathy. Don’t use platforms like social media to push ideas or stereotypes that may mock or imitate others.
According to Buddha, when someone fires an arrow into you—don’t focus on who sent it. Concentrate on getting the arrow out. It has been voiced before that such can be applied to how one can explain to someone why what they said was very prejudiced, in a way that doesn’t target them specifically but condemns the issue as a whole. Try to stand up to the person in a way that doesn’t attack them, but clarifies what may have been a controversial or ignorant comment. Questions like “Why do you say that?” or “Are you aware that statement may offend some people?” can force the person to reflect on what may have been unintentionally or purposely said.
Have conversations with people—especially with people with diminished voices that are not your own. Controversial topics makes people uncomfortable, but it is important to push past that discomfort. It is our duty to engage in difficult things and different perspectives in order to create progress. Don’t be afraid to fully and temporarily absorb a perspective that you may be privileged enough to have never known.
Lastly, engage and be present in your community. If something happens, and you were not able to stand up to it in the way you wanted to—by all means, write, email, demand change later. You have the ability to ask for the most empathetic and culturally-understanding attitudes of the situations you endure. This is your time.
LIFE is excited to announce we will be running stories written by students from schools in our coverage area. If you are a student who would like to contribute a story or know of a student who is interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For November, Maddie Solomon, a Denver School of the Arts senior, submitted a story about being actively engaged with one's community.
Maddie enjoys soccer, running, friends and family, adventures and coffee shops. She hopes to pursue psychology, journalism or education.
When asked why she writes, she quoted Henry David Thoreau, "Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with."
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