Maya Rege-Colt: Green New Deal town hall was great, but youth were overshadowed

  • U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, left, and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, right, talk to reporters Sunday at the Northampton High School, March 24, 2019. Staff Photo/Andy Castillo

Published: 4/13/2019 1:21:04 AM

I attended the March 24 Town Hall gathering on the Green New Deal with Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Jim McGovern, as well as many other courageous leaders in this region.

It was a wonderful, informative, and hopeful night. And I am compelled to write because I am frustrated. I enjoy the town hall format, which allows ordinary citizens to share their thoughts and questions and to challenge their leaders. I am always especially heartened and proud of the young people who have the courage to stand up and voice their thoughts and questions in a large room predominantly of adults.

I am frustrated because it seems obvious to me that we would encourage and support their voices to be heard. At this meeting and the last town hall I attended, I saw young people stand in line for almost the whole evening as older, mostly white, adults — who have the privilege of their age, experience, and race — took up space sharing their views and questions, simply because they got into line first.

Markey and McGovern repeatedly spoke about the intention of the Green New Deal — to make sure that typically marginalized peoples are leaders in this movement from the beginning. As a brown-skinned South Asian child of immigrants myself, I know that I was always much too intimidated to speak up like these brave students.

I know that these are the voices I want to hear. The hypocrisy was too much for me. I looked up and noticed that two young people sat themselves down, as time started running out and the night was coming to an end. I even spoke up and asked that we let our young people speak before 7:30 p.m.

Is it that hard to practice what we preach? It takes intentionality, awareness, and humbleness. Could we agree as a community that we will allow our young people and people of color to speak first? It may be you who has to sit down and not get your turn, as the night wears on.

Maya Rege-Colt

Amherst




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