Four students are spreading messages of encouragement and motivation to others when they present during the TEDxYouth@Dayton event on Friday, March 3 at Wright State University.
TEDxYouth is an event sponsored by the TED organization. TEDxYouth gives students ages 14-19 a platform to share their vision and inspire fellow students.
Noah Meyer '17 and Spencer Mullins '17 are presenting together on the topic of refugees.
"Our presentation is about the refugee program that Noah and I started, how it has changed our lives and views as well as the effect it has had on the lives of the members of our program," Mullins said. "It emphasizes the idea that these people are just like us."
"I was very glad to find out we were selected to give a talk," Meyer added. "The opportunity to be involved in a program like TEDx, which I have been a fan of for many years, was incredibly exciting to me."
Alexis Jackson '17, with two other high school seniors, will talk about their presentation, White Privilege is Hearing Without Listening.
"I am biracial," Jackson noted. "This experience has exposed me to the evil cycle of systemic racism but also to the voices of white people, as my mom is white and my dad is black. I feel that the reason people are reluctant to accept the Black Lives Matter movement is because we as a society make controversial topics relating to race a matter of 'black' and 'white' in its most literal sense. However, if we keep making things a competition rather than a collective battle for equality, that cycle of systemic racism will not end in my lifetime.
Jackson continued, "I saw TedxYouth as an opportunity to get my voice out there, to reach out to everyone and say that white privilege is a problem for all races, and the best way to move past it is for each and every one of us to be willing to learn, to listen, to love, and to grow."
Brennan Harlow '19 said his topic focuses on the need to put an end to drug abuse.
"I am telling my story about my family and my experience with heroin abuse in my family," Harlow said. "One of the major points I make in my speech is that when you abuse drugs it’s not just you that you're affecting. You affect everyone around you, think of it as a ripple effect."
Meyer, Mullins, Jackson and Harlow all agreed they hope students attending their TEDxYouth talk walk away with valuable information to help them be the leaders of tomorrow.
"I hope people who attend the presentation learn that all people are connected and similar at their core," Meyer reflected.
Mullins added, "That the refugee population and everyone on the earth, despite our outward differences, are just like us."
"I really want white people to understand that having white privilege does not mean that they do not struggle," Jackson said. "We are not asking white people to feel guilty, we are asking them to use that privilege for good. I hope that people leave our talk enlightened, encouraged, and more willing to have honest discussions with other white people and with people of color. Our talk will be given by a white woman, a black woman, and myself (biracial). I hope that all of our collective experiences and voices will make people think and reflect."
Harlow said, "I want people to ask themselves, 'What are your thoughts affecting?', 'Who are your words and actions affecting?', and 'Who are you truly affecting in your life?'
Harlow continued, "If you have something to say about our community or have an idea you think you should be talking about, I strongly encourage you to look for the application next year."
Posted March 2, 2017