Letters from Young Activists: Today's Rebels Speak Out

Letters from Young Activists: Today's Rebels Speak Out

by Dan Berger
     
 

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Who will lead America in the years to come? Letters from Young Activists introduces America's bold, exciting, new generation of activists. These diverse authors challenge the common misconception that today's young people are apathetic, shallow, and materialistic. Aged ten to thirty-one, these atheist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, transgender,See more details below

Overview


Who will lead America in the years to come? Letters from Young Activists introduces America's bold, exciting, new generation of activists. These diverse authors challenge the common misconception that today's young people are apathetic, shallow, and materialistic. Aged ten to thirty-one, these atheist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, transgender, heterosexual, bisexual, metrosexual Americans are from every type of background and ethnicity, but are united by their struggle toward a common goal. They are the inheritors of their parents' legacy from the sixties, but also have the imagination and courage to embark on new paths and different directions.

In letters addressed to their parents, to past generations, to each other, to the youth of tomorrow and to their future selves, each author articulates his or her vision for the world as they work towards racial, economic, gender, environmental and global justice. As the editors write in their introduction: "From globalization to the war on terrorism and beyond, our generation is compelled to action in the midst of a rapidly changing, and unique political moment Our challenge, and yours, is to live our lives in a way that does not make a mockery of our values."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Three young activists marshaled 44 others to their writing desks to pen letters to the world for this pedestrian collection. Their missives are addressed to ideas as well as people: parents, authorities, older activists, "the movement," tomorrow's youth and activists, and even to their own "future selves." Most of the letters are simple exercises in self-expression and self-examination. Common targets for indignation include racism, sexism, homophobia, prisons and imperialism. Often their analyses of the world are rooted in their own experiences with slights or discrimination, rather than in broader causes, a problem that the book itself addresses. "Neglecting vision leads to... detrimental effects.... Our goals include shifting folks from a personal analysis to an institutional critique," writes Stephanie Guilloud, who helped organize the Seattle WTO shutdown. The letters are heartfelt and passionate, but most lack the basic rhetorical skills essential to animate social or political movements. Sentences like "The legacy of activism is filled with successes and failures that we have inherited from those who were active before us" do little to stir the imagination. The collection does, however, highlight a lot of worthwhile volunteer work being done in the nonprofit sector by men and women under 30. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Self-proclaimed young activists write letters to their parents, to powerful politicians, even to their future selves. Their causes are diverse: yes to education, justice, gay marriage and peace in the Middle East; no to prisons, consumerism, environmental degradation, racism, sexism, domestic violence and American imperialism. From age 10 to early 30s, activists write letters expressing their political commitments. The epistolary gimmick, unfortunately, is distracting. The reader has to do too much work in discerning who the activist is, what her cause is, whom she's addressing and so on. A collection of essays in which the authors were more straightforwardly expository would have been infinitely more useful. Even so, a handful of the letters are forceful, cogent and compelling. Rebecca Trotzky-Sirr's letter is easily the best of the bunch. A single mother and first-year medical student, Trotzky-Sirr writes a letter to herself, to be read the day she gets her M.D. Her ostensible purpose is to remind herself why she should remain committed to providing poor women with good reproductive health care. But the letter also offers a powerful critique of political movements that implicitly suggest you have to be childless to be an activist and that "fail to include family & the daily complexity of caring for another person" in their politics. Jessica Vasquez's letter to Arnold Schwarzenegger, demanding greater equity in California's education appropriations, is also quite moving. Ten-year-old Chloe Joy's demands that parents stop "treating us kids like babies" and her suggestion that children unionize is just plain embarrassing. Some of the writers' self-descriptions also border on parody: MarianYalini Thambynayga, for example, "lives in borderlands where poetry is theater is love is movement is song is prayer is rebellion."If this volume represents the next generation of activism, it will come as no surprise should the left continue to languish.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560257479
Publisher:
Nation Books
Publication date:
10/28/2005
Series:
Nation Books
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,300,834
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.75(d)

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