#TheGenerationOfNow Reflection

Last Sunday (12/13/15), redefy hosted #TheGenerationOfNow at the Princeton University Carl A. Fields Center for Cultural Understanding. The landmark event featured 12 activists on the imperative nature of racial justice. With over 150 attendees, an outstanding line-up of speakers, and thoughtful conversations being sparked, #TheGenerationOfNow was truly unforgettable. The event was almost entirely planned, run, and executed by teenagers (the redefy team) with some help from our partners for the event, Not in Our Town - Princeton and the Princeton University Muslim Life Program. Our wonderful community really came together to engage in meaningful dialogue, to commemorate #InternationalHumanRights Day, and to assert that our generation can be defined by mobilization, not procrastination.

There were panels on interfaith activism, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, combatting islamophobia, and the #NotYourAsianSidekick movement. Following the panels, there were also workshops where teenagers could engage directly with the brilliant speakers in small groups.

The event was the major focus of our 2015 Mission to reduce racial prejudice and hate within our community. A great deal of planning, time, and energy went into the event, and we look forward to having the movement grow. Please make sure to use the hashtag, #TheGenerationOfNow, to declare why YOU want to make a difference, and stay updated to see the campaign GROW.

You can view pictures of the event here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.991242834265070.1073741851.538146879574670&type=3.

You can view our video of the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_CkU8-zmXA.

You can learn more about the speakers here: http://www.thegenerationofnow.com/#!speakers---/lz551.

And, you can read reflections from the event below by Nick Jain and Jenifer Miller:

I vividly remember the day, a few months ago, when the idea of #TheGenerationOfNow came into existence. I was on the phone with Ziad, the founder and president of redefy, about my role as VP of Event Planning, and about possible ideas for 2015-2016. Eventually, we came to the idea of having an event which featured young speakers about racial justice, with the message that our age should not and cannot limit the positive change that we can have on this world. At the time of this planning, I pictured the event to be a couple of hours long with a few speakers, and maybe 50 attendees. Never did I expect that it would be an event with 12 extraordinary speakers, and over 150 attendees. #TheGenerationOfNow has far exceeded any expectations that I ever had for it, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

Every day I hear so many accounts of bigotry and ignorance all around me and in the media, and it really hurts me. I believe in equality, acceptance, and social justice more than anything else in this world, but when I hear so much of the rest of the world telling me that everything I believe in is wrong, and that equality is not something to embrace and strive for but instead something to be forgotten and ridiculed, it makes me question the validity of my ideals. When public figures talk about banning muslims from traveling to America, people advocating about how we should increase racial profiling because it works, or students throwing around phrases such as “that’s so gay”, my first reaction is one of defiance; but after I hear those narratives time after time, and see communities belittled again and again, I can feel the sense of defeat creeping into my brain, telling me that I should stop looking for social justice because I will never find it. However, #TheGenerationOfNow, and my past week of reflection have taught me that this is not the case, and that while those feelings of defeat will undoubtedly come, the real fight is to reject those feelings, and to never stop pushing for a better tomorrow, for a world where everyone is accepted, a world where our children don’t have to live in fear of their differences. Seeing so many people at #TheGenerationOfNow who cared about these issues and to make a difference, and listening to 12 amazing speakers who spoke with such extreme eloquence and inspiration has lifted me up, and given me the power to reject those feelings of defeat that I have become accustomed to. Each and every one of the speakers at #TheGenerationOfNow is a role model to me, and I know that I will constantly look up to them for direction throughout the rest of my life. Each of their words, and each of the attendees has reminded me that we cannot allow people to make generalizations about entire groups of people, that terrorism has no religion, and that it is not okay to use words that describe one’s identity as synonyms for the stupid. #TheGenerationOfNow has reminded me that our words do matter, that education is the key to ending ignorance, and that the time to make a change is now. Before this past weekend, I was losing hope in our society. However, #TheGenerationOfNow has truly restored that hope, and for that I thank all of the amazing speakers and attendees so much.

Today, a week after #TheGenerationOfNow took place, I find myself reflecting on the experience of this event as a whole, and in all honesty, part of me still doesn’t believe that it actually happened. After all of the months of planning and tireless work by our amazing Event Planning Team, there is a part of me that almost feels lost without the emails to send and logistics to sort out. In a weird way, #TheGenerationOfNow has become a part of me, and for this last week, my life has felt empty without it. However, over the course of this week, I have realized that my life should not feel empty for #TheGenerationOfNow is not over and cannot be over. If we allow #TheGenerationOfNow to be over, then all the work that I did has failed. #TheGenerationOfNow is simply a reminder, a reminder that we are better than society often makes us out to be, a reminder that we must continue fighting against oppression, hate, and discrimination, and a reminder that social justice, acceptance, and equality are not just our aspirations, but our future. This event was just a stepping stone, a manifestation of our cause, but we truly are #TheGenerationOfNow, and we must unite to make a difference.

- Written by Nick Jain (Redefy VP of Event Planning) on 12/19/15

I sit here in my bed the night following #TheGenerationOfNow unable to sleep. Thoughts are pouring through my mind, so I figured, why not put my thoughts to paper? So now, I sit here in my bed, unable to sleep, writing to whoever may or may not see this.
I've always liked Redefy because for one, I love Ziad. He's just the most genuinely blunt yet caring and driven person I know. Besides that, it's just provided me with an excellent opportunity to be involved in dialogue about topics I wouldn't normally be immersed in. Today though, I loved Redefy.

I've always wondered what I can REALLY do. I'm a white girl who doesn't really partake in religion, and have never seen myself as much of an outsider. I fit in wherever I go. As this person who has always assumed I am not that different, I kind of never thought it was my position to join these huge movements. How can I be part of this if I don't identify with these people? Today, this question was answered.

I am different. I am not just a white girl who doesn't pursue religious practices. I am not just that girl who fits into any situation. I have attended 7 different schools throughout my life, and I've learned that I am not like all the people who surround me. I have an affinity for making a difference. I want to stand up against hate, against nonchalant racism, and against gender inequality. So while I may look like the majority of my school, I am not the majority.

Today, I learned that being part of movements, despite who you are, is what is needed! Take for example the #BlackLivesMatter movement. While clearly the movement is focused on black people, the point of the movement is to show non-black people that black people's lives are IMPORTANT. So what does that mean? That means that non-black people should educate their communities on the importance of black lives.

I sat today in a room full of teenagers who have committed themselves to making a difference. I felt empowered by speakers like Zellie Imani, Brittany Packnett, Donya Nasser, Haroon Moghul, Goldie Taylor, Haroon Ullah, and so many others. They showed us that we are the future. We have the power, despite who we are perceived to be, to make a difference. Together we can bring about positive change; that is one thing I know for sure.

So if you ever question whether you are "different" enough to make a change, take a second to think about that. Read up on the speakers from the event and reflect upon all they have done. I promise, you will find yourself in a position of reconsidering how you define yourself, and then, then you will know that you CAN make a difference.

Thanks for reading my late night thoughts.

- Written by Jenifer Miller (Redefy Head Officer of Outreach) on 12/13/15

- Post Written/Compiled by Ziad Ahmed (Redefy Founder and President)

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