Today was a very special day for youth from all over the world, because today was the Youth Summit. Youth had the opportunity to be part of creating an International Youth Declaration Against Racism and a Plan of Action. But it was also sad for some youth because there wasn't a chance for their voices to be heard.
Youth were separated into groups to go to different workshops dealing with different parts of the documents and discuss what they want to see changed. What upset some youth was the process they had to work with. Many youth didn't have the chance to voice their opinion.
I ended up in the larger meeting room with the youth who couldn't go into the documentation rooms. Youth are defined by the U.N. as those under 30 years old. But throughout the Youth Summit, some began to realize that almost everyone that spoke on the panels was over 30. Two of the questions they asked were, "If this is a youth summit, why aren't the youth speaking on the panel?" and "Why are elders coming in to speak about youth when youth want to speak FOR youth?"
Youth from different parts of the world started to go up and speak about their experiences from their countries and how racism had personally affected them. And this was a very emotional point in time for everybody. For instance, one young lady came up to speak about her experiences of racism in Guyana.
Another youth, from the U.S., one
from South Africa, and one from the Middle East went up and said what
racism is and how it affects their community. Even me - I stood up and
shared my feelings to the whole entire group about how I felt about
some kids not having the chance to express themselves. I also
Annie also expressed herself and how she was feeling at that point in time and it was a heart touching experience for all the youth present there.
Because of my speech, two other youth and I were nominated to speak and inform the other youth once we all reconvened. We will speak about what we had discussed and how we would like to involve all the youth in attendance later in the Summit. We asked them to agree to stand with us in unity as youth from all over the world and they did. Due to the speech, I was interviewed by a Canadian Journalist and I was being commended by many people.
Doing this speech kinda made me proud
of who I am. It made me a better leader. And it showed the power and
impact youth can have on other youth, and even on elder people. It did
not make me powerful in the form of being in control, but it made me
powerful by my actually being able to tell that I was finally being
heard. Afterwards, having people commend me on my
Later that evening, we were gathered once more to hand the declaration (as a working document, not a final, approved version) to Mary Robinson, the U.N. Commissioner on Human Rights. In the program for this panel, there were no youth or teenagers speaking for the youth (just delegates speaking about youth).
So, as part of what we had organized,
we had one youth go
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