Original Oratory: Burnt Fries

By: Nivedha Goli

Original Oratory: Burnt Fries

As school gets out at 3:30pm
my friends and I are preparing for the journey of a lifetime. We have to hike
up and down treacherous mountain hills and slopes for thirty painful minutes
for a glorious treasure. As we finish our trek and prepare to relish in our reward, we sometimes question why we
walk 30 minutes every other week for fries, but you have to understand these
fries are like nothing else. They have the perfect golden-brown sheen; you
don’t even need ketchup for it to taste good and while you take your last bite you
don’t even remember the struggle of the journey. But if I am being completely
honest the fries weren’t always that good. Because the fries used to be really
really burnt and thankfully after a numerous amount of complaints, they finally
fixed their fryer. The journey of these fries reminds me of activism oddly
enough. Because with activism some young activists always get the burnt pieces
no matter the fryer they use while others get to enjoy the perfect golden-brown
ones without even having to experience the pain of the journey. 

First, we’re going to look at why our fryer is malfunctioning and
producing a whole lot of bad fries for a whole lot of activists. 

Then we’re going to see what the implications are of people only
ever getting burnt fries and

we are going to look at some solutions for fixing our fryer of activism and I
promise you by the end of this speech you will all get your very own
composition of fries. 

Youth activism is when people around my age or even
younger take action for social justice or change. By telling the youth, the
future, that they can create an impact helps people from younger generations.
It helps youth, like me, understand that our actions have value and can
possibly change the world. We, as a society, need to highlight youth activism
even more because it encourages children to take a stand for what they believe
is right. So, WE, the youth, are the future of activism!

But there has been something I have been wondering for quite a
while, what is included in the future of activism, who is included in that we
statement? Is the girl, who was raised right outside of New Mexico, who fights
for a minority community a part of this we? What about the young boy with heart
palpitations due to pollution who fights for young leaders, is he a part of
this we? Well, that depends, are the people I just mentioned white or not.
Personally, I find it quite weird how some people still try to separate white
people from the rest of the world. And this mindset continues to appear
throughout my life and even in activism. Though in activism it appears in the
form of exclusion. 

Exclusion in activism not only creates limited possibilities for
activists but also blocks the possibility of a new world where we can all
thrive and feel a sense of belonging. Exclusion forces us to ignore what’s
going on with the Indian Health Service.  According to the American Bar
association, “The Indian Health service, an organization within the U.S.
department of Health and Human services has been consistently underfunded by
Congress even though it provided care to over 2.2 million native Americans.
Congress's action is forcing health care providers to limit services offered”
(Smith, Native Americans: A Crisis in Health Equity).  Although activists
of color have been excluded throughout all of history, recent advances in
communication have only made it worse.

In the media young white activists are being put at the front of
social justice movements, while youth of color are being cast aside. When this
happens youth of color are being suppressed and aspects of intersectionality
are lost. Intersectionality is like a Venn diagram. It is understanding how
aspects of a person's identity, like race, class, and gender, work together to
create various forms of discrimination and privilege. When the power of youth
of color’s voices in the media is diminished, the idea they are fighting for
doesn’t get spread and their perspective gets lost. Perspective in activism is
essential, because it grants understanding, and fights against bias and

Let’s look at one example where Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan youth
climate activist was cropped out of a photo from a joint press conference and
her name wasn't even on the list of participants for this conference. Nakate
said, “[she] felt like she wasn't even there because of this incident
and that climate activists of color are erased, and that there were other
activists who had messaged her saying that similar things had happened to them,
but they didn't have the courage to say anything” (Evelyn, 'like I wasn't
there': Climate activist Vanessa Nakate on being erased from a movement
Even if it was an “accidental photo crop'' when an accident like that happens
hundreds of times it's bound to have its effects, because people don’t know who
Vanessa Nakate is and who other activists of color are because of these

People of color are usually the foundation for most activism, yet
they get no credit and somehow what they were originally fighting for gets
transformed into a movement where white people are centered and their needs are
put first. Now in the U.S. it is no surprise that this happens, as we are a
nation that was founded on the basis of white supremacy, and that still shows
in the activism that occurs in this country. Because how many indigenous youth
activists can you name?

 Now let's clearly
state the implications of continuing to head down the wrong path. Throughout
the world young white people have become the face and future of activism as we
know it and in the present day the media only adds on to this. White
activists are usually not the first ones to be affected by problems they become
the face of. Take Greta Thunberg who I am sure you all know, the left knows
Greta, the right knows Greta, everybody knows Greta. She has quickly
become the face of climate activism, yet she is not a part of the communities
that are the first ones impacted by climate change. Greta fights alongside
activists of color, like Autumn Petelier, who are a part of the groups that are
the first affected, yet the media shines more light
on her rather than giving these young activists of color a bigger platform.
Environmental racism refers to the disproportionate number of environmental
hazards found in minority neighborhoods primarily populated by people of color
and these people are disproportionately affected by environmental policies.
Working on environmental racism is a huge part of climate reform but if the
world can’t even bother to do something as simple as listening to young voices
of color, we as a society may never be able to fix the problems we have caused.
But as I was saying I’m sure all of you know who Greta Thunberg is even if you
aren’t well versed in climate reform, but here are activists you may not have
even heard of Rose Whipple, Martese Johnson, and even Jules turner, each of
these activist imagine something different for the world but one thing that
unites them is that they as youth of color don’t get enough of a platform in a
world where people listen to white activists first. 

 Activism is meant to improve our world but if there are inherent
issues, and limitations, within the premise of activism, then those
contradictions need to be understood and worked on. So, in a world where our society is filled
with the beauty of diversity, if those who we know fight for political and
social change are not diverse then that creates an issue of a lack of
representation, perspective, and actual change. Representation teaches us who
can and who cannot change the world. When we see white activists, we
internalize that those are the makers of change, and the internalization is not
only a form of self-hatred but also prevents actual movement. For example,
invisible, non-represented, groups create invisible solutions. Vanessa Nakate, the same girl I mentioned earlier furthers
this by saying, “Every activist who speaks out is telling a story about their
community, but if they are ignored, the world will not know what’s happening,
and what solutions are working” (Evelyn, 'like I wasn't there': Climate activist
Vanessa Nakate on being erased from a movement
). With a
lack of representation comes a lack of empowerment. And that makes perfect sense to me since most of my friends
are too afraid to stand up for what they believe in because they don’t know
anyone that looks like them that does. Proper representation must exist for
activism to help everyone. So, what's the solution to fixing this issue in

FRIES, F. R. I. E. S., I mean I did promise them to you
at the beginning of this speech – Fries are a 5-part solution: First F we need
to be okay with failing, because the path to making activism truly equal isn’t
straightforward and we will make mistakes along the way. R we need to remember
past activists of color, so we can learn how they fought for what they believed
in, we need to remember activists like Bayard Rustin who was an LGBTQ and civil
rights advocate.  Now I, we need to inspire young activists of color to
create a future where everyone stands up for what they believe in. E we need to
educate not only ourselves but others about issues like what’s going on with
the Indian Health Service. And finally, S we need
to not be salty because even though salty fries sound good salty humans do not,
we need to not get annoyed just because we are finally sharing the spotlight.
So far, the call to do and act has relied on those who we know are available.
But right now, we need to detach from our normal sources of activism and become
aware of our biases for the future of activism to benefit

But if nothing changes, and this is where the future of
activism is heading, I don’t want to be a
part of it even if I am never given the opportunity to be.

Works Cited

Evelyn, Kenya. “'Like I Wasn't There': Climate Activist Vanessa
Nakate on Being Erased from a Movement.” The Guardian, Guardian News and
Media, 29 Jan. 2020,

Smith, Mary. “Native Americans: A Crisis in Health Equity.” Americanbar.org,
2018, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/the-state-of-healthcare-in-the-united-states/native-american-crisis-in-health-equity/.