By Phoenix Hailing, Photo by Kody Stoebig
Editor’s Note: Phoenix Hailing of Highland High School, 18, gave this speech at the “Day of Resistance” community march and rally held on May 1 at Mill Creek Linear Park in downtown Bakersfield. Hundreds of Kern County residents gathered that day to march and rally together to protest issues impacting their communities.
As the youth of this country, we are the future, and now is the time for us to realize our power and our voice.
Now more than ever, we are feeling the effects and consequences of the work of our predecessors. Our potential is being hindered by the policies and outcomes brought about by past generations. It is up to us to right them.
In an age of anti-intellectualism, in an age where inconvenient truths are shrugged off as mere alternative facts and fake news, the need for a strong education system is necessary.
Those currently in power are actively working to gut funding to public education and reallocating it to less regulated, often for-profit, private schools, at a time when we need to be strengthening our public education system and bettering our schools, and making it easier to receive a quality education.
When you invest in education, you invest in the future, and you invest in America. When you improve education and access to education, crime rates fall and the economy is stimulated, strengthening the workforce and our society.
This applies to college education as well. Currently in America, high tuition costs and predatory student loans drastically hinder our young people’s ability to further their education. Someone who seeks to better themselves, their future, and society as a whole by furthering their education should not be financially burdened by their endeavor.
This burden affects everyone, not just our youth and students. This debt epidemic suppresses the economy by limiting young people’s abilities to contribute to our economy and inhibiting the creation of quality, decent-paying jobs.
For these reasons we believe education to be a right of all people and support affordable, quality education for all and believe it to be vital to our country’s future and prosperity.
It is imperative that we invest in our future. As we stand together today, our leaders are taking us down a dangerous path.
Climate change is perhaps the biggest issue facing the world today. While most modern countries are working to slow and reverse the disastrous effects of climate change, our leaders are actively moving us in the opposite direction.
Rising sea levels, extreme weather, displacement of entire civilizations and societies, and famine are and will continue to threaten our very way of life.
People, there is no Planet B. This is our only home, and we must protect it before it is too late.
We as young people must unite and demand that our leaders acknowledge the reality of climate change and pursue policy and changes that will work to amend this terrible threat to our well being, to the well being of the planet and of humanity. We must invest in green and renewable energy more than ever and we must stop burning fossil fuels and polluting our planet and our air.
When we invest in our country and in our economy, when we invest in the future and our young people, we reap great rewards.
When we stand together and fight for our future, we pave the way toward progress and a better world. And we as American youth must rise up and make our voice heard.
We are the future. We must be the ones to set us on a path of progress and prosperity, and we must never stop fighting for what is right. Let us be the best that we can be, and let’s fight for our future.