“Change really only happens through the younger generations.”

“Change really only happens through the younger generations.”

March 11, 2019

Our Chief Executive, Lucy Caldicott, attended two events for International Women’s Day 2019: talks with Angela Davis and Naomi Klein at the Women of the World Festival in London. We asked her to write about her thoughts for UpRising.

 

Both talks were united by reflections for both women on the books they are famous for. Angela Davis’ “Women, Race, and Class,” was first published in 1981, well before many of the audience members were born, and Naomi Klein’s “No Logo” came out in 1999.

 

Angela Davis reflected on what had changed since the early 80s, citing individualism as a key issue for current times, and that there’s been a loss of the sense that each one of us can make a difference in an interconnected world. She talked of this sense that while we’re still fighting the same fights, we’ve acquired new insights and new tools. The Black Lives Matter demonstrations may have died down but the movement has allowed conversations about racism to happen that weren’t happening before and that these conversations can now happen on an international platform. Her message for us was that as individuals situated at a particular historical moment, we need to learn from history and make sure that we do all the work we can to empower the next generation to carry on.

 

Naomi Klein also spoke of how all struggles are interconnected and individualism. The intervening years since “No Logo” was published have seen the extraordinary rise of the individual as a brand in a way that could not have been envisaged when she was writing about the misdeeds of companies like McDonald’s, Nike, and Shell. Young people today are learning to understand themselves as products to be continually consumed by others. This has had a huge change both on people themselves and how we act, but also on social movements which are competing in this world, competing using the same tools, rather than collaborating. The issue with seeing social movements and individuals as brands is that brands need to continue to repeat the same idea over and over again, rather than continually learning and evolving.

 

Both women talked about the role of young people in fighting today’s struggles - hugely relevant to us in our work at UpRising. Klein talked about the role of young people in calling out old people’s inaction in tackling the key issues we’re all facing. When Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg, kicked off her international campaign to wake the world up to the global warming emergency, she’d been inspired by students across the USA staging walkouts to campaign against gun violence Greta decided to go on strike herself and not go to school every Friday because why should she prepare for a future that the adults don’t seem to be preparing for?  

 

Davis talked about how change only really happens through the involvement of younger generations, citing the example of new, reinvigorating energy which has entered the women’s movement from young women becoming active in the last few years. She discussed how young people bring a fresh understanding and older people need to try to remain open to learning from them.

 

Both events closed with Jude Kelly, who hosted them both, asking the audience to think about what they’ll do differently as a result of the ideas they’ve heard discussed. For me, the discussions were a great endorsement of the work we do at UpRising, ensuring young people from a wide range of different backgrounds are equipped to access power and bring about positive change.

 

 

Photo by Nicole Adams on Unsplash