Summer Workshop Writers Explore Activism

The 37th Annual Summer Writing Workshop focused on activism, and it’s as if we had ESP when we picked the topic.

In our first week as a group, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five police officers at a peaceful protest in Dallas were all murdered. Black Lives Matter roared back into the headlines, and we wrestled as a group with questions of institutional racism, nonviolence, and political power.

We watched the films Selma and United in Anger, about ACT-UP’s campaign to get the government to fight AIDS. Some of us went to a Black Lives Matter protest of police brutality at City Hall and interviewed BLM members there and in our office.

We researched the two presidential candidates’ positions on various topics that matter most to young people, such as education, gun control, LGBTQ rights, and the social safety net. At least one of our writers registered to vote for the first time during the workshop.
 
Field trips to Bloomberg and Democracy Now sparked discussion of how different media cover the news. 
 
One writer is in the Police Explorers, a program in which youth learn the ropes of policing at a particular precinct. Yet he’s also a black teen who’s been targeted unfairly by police, and he started going to Black Lives Matters protests after Eric Garner was killed two years ago. He writes from his unique perspective in the upcoming issue of Represent

Other fascinating stories arose from our trips and discussions, and so did strong bonds: Many of the summer writers want to come back and write more in the fall.
 
Stay tuned for new stories to be published in upcoming issues of YCteen and Represent!
Youth Comm Reporter Youth Comm