Common Obstacles Teen Activists Face Essay Example

Teen activists can range from 9 to 19 years old. However, regardless of age, activists will always persist to overcome obstacles and advocate for their cause. Who exactly are activists and what do they do? Simply put, an activist is an individual or group who endlessly strives for a solution to a cause that they feel passionate about. Along with their willingness to fight, various obstacles may come about for activists. These obstacles may include, not being taken seriously due to youth and being targeted by an opposing group. In addition, daily influencers such as the media or wealthy companies may create stereotypes that end up swaying people's minds in a way that does not work out in the favor of an activist. Whether an activist succumbs to these obstacles or overcomes them is entirely dependent on their willingness to advocate for their cause. 

Young age can commonly pose as an obstacle for teen activists. Due to their young age, the comprehension of social issues that teenage activists have is often taken short shrift by adults. One such teen is Joshua Williams, a thirteen-year-old activist who started a foundation to feed the hungry. In Joshua’s case, his mother overlooked his desire to help the homeless, thinking that it was nothing more than a thoughtless dream that typical kids would have. Joshua, a seven-year-old boy, felt compassion toward local homeless people and wanted to help them. Eventually, Joshua's insistence and passion led his mother to help him set up a foundation which he named “Joshua heart.” Joshua, now thirteen, has about twelve hundred members working alongside him. Joshua Heart provides local homeless people with various nutritious foods. It is stated in the video, “Mom can we do something to help I want to make a difference a lot of time the parents or their does don't listen we think oh they don't know what they're talking about or they're not serious”(Babble 0:26-0:36). Additionally, it is written, "when I first met Joshua this immediate spark was recognizing how young he was and what was really amazing to me is that he had at the age of 11 many many years of experience building his foundation he was well organized" (Babble 1:25-1:35). In both examples, a different adult is underestimating the capabilities and thoughts of a teen activist. Joshua, who is only thirteen, was clearly not being taken seriously due to his young age. Only with persistence was Joshua able to convince adults that he was capable of being a successful teen activist. It is evident that young age can be a troublesome obstacle for teen activists.

Sometimes, activists might find themselves being targeted by an opposing group especially if they are advocating for a difficult cause or they are speaking out against a group of people who oppress others. Multiple teen activists have faced this type of obstacle, although one of the most notable activists would be Malala Yousafzai. Malala, a sixteen year old girl, lives in Swat Valley, Pakistan. In recent years, an organization known as the Taliban entered her village, where they began to forcefully impose authority and their own laws upon the people of Swat Valley. Experiencing this mistreatment firsthand led Malala to realize that the Taliban were unjustly oppressing the people of Swat Valley. Soon after, Malala began to speak out against the Taliban whenever she got the opportunity. The Taliban, bothered by her resistance against them, decided to target Malala. Sure enough, at one point on her way back from school, Malala was shot in the head by some Talib members. Malala stated in the interview, “The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban” (Daily Show 0:15-0:16). Additionally Malala quotes, “blasted a generator of electricity and it was the month of Ramadan, in which we keep fast, in which we don't eat on the day, in which we don't drink for the whole day. They blasted the electricity generators, which was providing electricity to the whole city of Mingora;” (Daily Show 7:41-8:02). The Taliban maliciously forced the people of Swat Valley to abide by their rules and customs. However, Malala did not comply with this unjust enforcement and directly spoke up against the Taliban. As the evidence suggests, the Taliban tried to silence Malala by killing her. In spite of such a gruesome complication, Malala pushed forward and continued to advocate for her cause. As exemplified by Malala, activists can face many obstacles, one of which is being targeted by an opposing group, and to overcome such an obstacle an activist must have dedication to fight for their cause. 

“Over time, I’ve understood that the media is a really powerful agency in trying to influence and change people and condition them to think a certain thing.” remarks Shiden Tekle, one of the members of a group known as “Legally Black.” Both media and advertisements created by wealthy companies can play as daily influencers for any average person. Oftentimes, what people think about a topic can reflect what the media is saying or what an advertisement is repeatedly portraying. These stereotypes can also play as an obstacle for activists. Due to these stereotypes, activists who are advocating for a cause that may only be slightly opposed in the media or in advertisements have difficulty convincing people that their cause is just or correct. A few teen activists who are facing this sort of challenge are seventeen to nineteen year olds, Liv Francis-Cornibert, Bel Matos da Costa, Kofi Asante, and Shiden Tekle. These four teenagers, who live in London, form “Legally Black,” a group focused on correcting the misrepresentations of the black population, especially in the media. They decided to start this group after noticing that white heroes are a lot more common in the media than black heroes. The group formed in September of 2017 having met at an academy called “The Advocacy Academy.” Since then, Legally Black has used posters and their voices to spread word of the misconceptions about black people portrayed in the media to the world. For instance it is stated, “The two activists, along with friends Bel Matos da Costa and Kofi Asante, make up Legally Black: a London-based campaign group fighting misrepresentation of black people in the media.” (Flynn 1). Furthermore it is stated, “The idea was simple: take iconic film and television posters featuring all-white casts (Titanic, Harry Potter, The Inbetweeners) and replace the characters with black faces – those of friends, family and volunteers. Each poster was accompanied with a simple message: ‘If you’re surprised, it means you don’t see enough black people in major roles.’”(Flynn 1). A lot of misconceptions that people have about the black population can originate from ideas constructed in the media. Legally Black’s goal is to erase these misconceptions and create a sort of harmony between the black and white populations. As stated, they are placing posters on various corners in public places. These posters replace widely known white heroes in films and tv shows with a black character. Through their voices and the posters that they make, Legally Black is striving to correct the stereotypes presented about the black population in the media. As shown, the media and other highly influential businesses, such as advertisements, will continue to sway people's minds in accordance with the stereotypes that they sometimes absent-mindedly present. This can quickly prove to be quite a difficult challenge for activists to overcome, specifically if they are advocating against such stereotypes. 

Joshua, Malala, and the members of Legally Black are all teen activists who strive to achieve progress in the issue they are each fighting for. However, no teen activist can reach their goal without needing to overcome some sort of obstacles.  From being underestimated by adults due to young age, and becoming targeted by an opposing party, to advocating against misconceptions built by highly influential businesses such as the media.  All teen activists face obstacles no matter the age, although, all challenges in activism require dedication and a strong will to overcome.


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