The climate strike: global or generational? BY JESS FODAY
Lesson plans lay incomplete as the sun beats through windows of abandoned classrooms and atop empty desks. Hundreds of students around North Carolina skip school in solidarity with the global climate strike. On September 20th, Halifax Mall in Raleigh, North Carolina, swelled with climate change protesters sporting homemade signs and determination for change. Among those that clapped for activist speakers and penned letters to government officials, were the young faces of nearly 50 DSA students.
“[I]t was an easy choice for me,” Jane Slentz-Kesler, a senior who participated in the rally, remarked. “I think my absence in school speaks just as loudly as my presence at the strike… the missing of class was such a tiny inconvenience in comparison to the overwhelming necessity of climate action,” Slentz-Kesler commented.
Of the obstacles that restrained students from participating in skipping school, parental and educational remain a top concern. However, as awareness and acceptance for this civil disobedience is amplified by young activists around the world, namely, Greta Thunberg, who hasn’t attended school since 2018, discussion has been prompting about the importance of education in the first place.
“If we don’t have a future, what is the point of education?” Lena Angrist commented almost jokingly. “The global climate strike is important because without the planet there is no future… How can I enjoy and see the value in learning anything when I feel like I’ll never be able to use it because there is literally an impending apocalypse?”
The sentiments of those like Thunberg, Slentz-Kesler, and Angrist are that if the government doesn’t care enough about the future of young people to take measures against climate change, then why should they. On the contrary, some schools have attempted to fill this gap of motivation and even used the Raleigh protest as a field trip opportunity to increase student participation and education.
“Well it’s good to be involved in things when you’re still young so you have experience when you’re older… I want to be able to survive the next 12 years without being in fear,” Funmi Shabu, a 4th grader from Empowered Minds Academy commented on why she believes it was important so many young people be present at the march.
The elementary and middle schoolers present from Empowered Minds Academy got to experience something quite literally universal that afternoon. More than just oversized handout rally shirts were taken home, but budding ideas about how to improve the world they live in as well. In the words of Slentz-Kesler, “youth are the main voice of this movement” and it is evident, communicating with the youth that they’re angry. They have a message to give to the big corporations, “ignorant politicians”, and the world that they’re willing to spread.
“[Adversaries of climate change] are not needed in the world we are trying to create. Your goals are not healthy or helpful to the safety of people and the environment we all rely on. You are the root of this problem… Step the [expletive] up or shut the [expletive] down. That’s it,” Angrist concluded intensely.