How much of our lives do we live unexamined?
What do we take for granted?
What are we unwilling to question?
These were the questions that lingered with me after I watched Makenna Pope’s TED talk titled Want to be an activist? Start with your toys. This young woman is certainly remarkable! She saw in her brother a talent and passion for cooking. She saw a boy who enjoyed something and hoped he had an outlet to explore and develop that interest. But she also saw something in the world that would potentially hold him back. Something that would send a message out into the world clouding his and others’ perceptions about young boys who like to cook. A message that could squash them. Something that could extinguish his desire.
Watch the video below:
What I like most about this TED talk is how Makenna pushes her audience to change the world, to go out into it and actively work for change that needs to be made. Maybe it is as simple as wanting to change the packaging of a toy. Yet even something as simple as that can be monstrous to obtain. Like Makenna states, once you realize you can become an activist and argue for change, you are immediately faced with obstacles: people. She shares how discouraging people in the world can be. Disrespectful. Close-minded. Unsupportive. Downright cruel and vindictive.
Makenna advises us to breeze past the negative people out there with the simple phrase, "haters gonna hate." In doing this, she not only accomplishes the change she wishes to see happen, she, as a young person, has convinced the adult world to make a difference in the lives of young boys who enjoy to cook.
I think there is much we can take from this short talk. One, what do we teach our kids both explicitly and implicitly? Two, what gendered messages do we communicate to children? Three, how can we better listen to youth, and encourage them to explore and challenge the injustices they see in the world, no matter how big or small?
Finally, how can we take what we believe and turn it into a cause?