by Nia, Ne’Asia, and Constanze
On Friday May 3rd, 2019 the Charlotte youth staff- Constanze, Ne’Asia and Nia- attended a Youth Activism Summit hosted by Triangle People Power. The youth summit was attended by high school aged youth and advocacy organizations like the NAACP and Table 33 of Duplin County. There were also breakout sessions in between panel discussions.
During the break out sessions, we were given the option to go into two discussion groups. One discussion group was centered around the question “What is Advocacy?”. The second group was discussing “white saviorism” and this was the group discussion that we decided to join. First, we began with setting some ground rules to “maintain the peace” during the discussion. After this, we began discussing the definition of white saviorism, and how we see it in everyday life. Some good examples people brought up were mission trips and other “help” efforts to countries in Africa. One of the interesting points brought up included how white people seem to have been conditioned, by western media, into thinking that everyone may need their help. It is also worth noticing the praise that people may receive after providing help to these seemingly needy societies, influencing more people to want to partake in the action of “saving” in order to receive recognition or basically: clout. After talking with everyone for about 15 minutes, we all came to the conclusion that white saviorism can be viewed as another form of altruism, in which we can never know if it is truly genuine or all out of self interest.
During one of the panel discussions, we heard from a group of youth advocates from Duplin County named Table 33 who are devoted to combating the negative effects and impacts of hog farming in their community as whole. In their session, they explained and discussed the difficulties of their advocacy work and talked about one black owned business owner who had been bullied online and threatened because of her stance against the harmful impacts of hog waste. The youth taught us about the big time companies who own the hog farms which are polluting the air with harmful smells and improperly utilizing methane which causes negative health impacts on the community. One of the youth shared how she was impacted on a personal level because she has asthma and the smell of the hog farms threatens her health. Another youth explained that the runoff caused by hog farms, the recent hurricane, and lack of timely government relief caused the community to be without drinking water for several months.
Lastly, we attended a panel that talked about the pipeline to forming youth-adult relationships and Amie, a Raleigh Youth Staff, helped to facilitate that conversation. We enjoyed networking with other youth advocates, hearing their stories, and learning how we can continue to encourage each other as we work towards community change.