Interview: Tanéyah Jolly on her organization Teens Talk and isolation tips for young activists
Youth for Positive Change talked to Tanéyah Jolly about her organization Teens Talk, and the importance of bringing young people into the global conversation.
First off, can you explain to us what Teens Talk is and why you started it?
Teens Talk is a media platform committed to engaging teens in conversations about politics, identity, and culture. In recent times – in fact, throughout history – young people have been at the forefront of different political movements. We are at a point in time where young people are imagining a future that will be vastly different from what’s here now. The actions and decisions we make today will affect the future of everyone tomorrow.
Though students are excited to enter the political world and gain agency, many people do not take us seriously. We hope Teens Talk will not only combat these misconceptions, but will also create a community of teens around the world who inspire and support each other in facilitating change. For each publication, teens around the world submit work to have a chance to be published in our upcoming issue.
Young people are often excluded from conversations surrounding culture and politics. How does Teens Talk aim to change this?
Teens Talk brings young people to the forefront of conversations about culture and politics. The different forms of artwork and writing also provide a unique medium to engage in these conversations. At Teens Talk we want to exhibit the wealth of diversity that exists amongst teens. Whether this is diversity in thought or diversity in ethnicity, Teens Talk wants to present it all. We want to give the raw, unfiltered truth of what teens experience all around the globe. Part of this includes making the conscious choice for our content to be accessible. Teens Talk magazines can be found in libraries and schools. For people who cannot access a physical copy, all of the content is also published on our website free of charge. Teens Talk wants to give young people the chance to share their voice and everybody the chance to engage with our content to make the conversation surrounding culture and politics inclusive spaces for teens to share their opinions.
What are three wellbeing tips you’d give to all the young changemakers out there who are in isolation right now?
The three tips I would give to young changemakers in isolation are to take care of your mental health, stay connected to friends and family, and to get involved in politics. With a drastic change in resources, especially regarding mental health, it is important that young changemakers put themselves first. There will always be a complicated balance of sacrificing your personal needs and wants for those of others. Young people who feel obligated to contribute to the world often find themselves doing so at the expense of their own health and happiness. During this time, it is important that we find that balance to care for ourselves while also remaining passionate about politics and activism.
My second tip would be to stay connected with people in your life. This can definitely be difficult for people who do not have access to social media or reliable phone service. But if you do, staying connected will help strengthen relationships in the post-Coronavirus world.
Lastly, I would suggest to stay or get involved in politics.
Any young person who exists right now is a changemaker. Our presence in the political world is radical for some. It is extremely commendable that there are amazing young people who are at the forefront of movements and organizations. It is also commendable that there are young people engaged in discussions around legislation, governance, and social issues. It is important that we continue to be passionate about politics and educate ourselves on current issues.
Young people are often described as “apathetic” and “entitled.” How do you respond to these sorts of statements?
There is no one way to define an entire generation, so there may be some young people who fit that description, but characterics of individuals do not define those of an entire group. While there may be some young people who adhere to this stereotype, there are many who challenge this. Young people have come together to create change through various different forms because we are passionate about creating an equitable future. This also speaks to why most young people are not entitled. If we are constantly initiating movement and creating spaces to change the world, then we are not expecting anything to be handed to us. I think we should feel entitled to basic human rights, yet young people are fighting for these rights everyday.
Who are three young creators online that we HAVE to follow?
The three young creators you must follow are @dejafoxx, @nadyaokamoto, and @_charlenerocha!
Lastly, how can those who want to get involved join Teens Talk?
There are many different ways to get involved with Teens Talk. People from the ages of 13-19 can submit work. Also, people can read and view the content. If there are any teens interested in editorial layout or design, developing a social media presence, or web and app development they should reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIOGRAPHY: Tanéyah Jolly is the founder of Teens Talk, a publication by teens for teens. She is a a senior in high school and is studying social entrepreneurship, using the field to help create opportunities and resources for those who are often ignored and neglected by society.