The High Museum of Art believes in the power of teens’ voices. This past summer, the High had a group of 16 teens from the metro Atlanta area who learned the ins and outs of the museum, and who worked with local artists, dancers, choreographers, and writers to create programs. The Teen Team is a dynamic group of rising juniors and seniors who help create and host public programs at the High, including the teen-only Teen Night and monthly free admission day, Second Sundays. The Teen Team program is a paid, year-round commitment, and the teens are considered Museum employees. They explore the Museum’s collection and special exhibitions, meet museum staff, local artists, and get the inside scoop on museum careers through hands-on experience.
This post is written by Noor El-Gazairly and edited by Michelle Goodall, both Teen Team members, and is a reflection of the political and social context in which they are growing up.
“A Future Out of My Hands”
Growing up in a world of someone else’s creation is not necessarily a sentiment most of us consider when reflecting upon our upbringing. It’s just the way it has been, is, and will be for any generation born into this global society and home we call Earth. For as long as there is a generation that creates another to advance the world, there will always be an impression of past generations on the general culture, structure, and society of which future children will inevitably be impressed and molded by. It’s mundane; yet for my generation, we feel those lasting tints of prior chapters more intensely and urgently than arguably any other wave of populace.
I am a mere sixteen years old, and the vast possibilities for my life are exponentially expanding as I become exposed to new experiences and opportunities. However, despite my fruitful ambitions, the more I grasp the achievable and unimaginable, the more I feel the stifling hand of responsibilities placed on me—these being born long before me. There is nothing more I aspire to do than to be a beacon of change in this tumultuous sea of the unjust that almost everyone has felt, or rather feels. Recent political happenings have dredged our raw and unedited sentiments from the American people, whether they be vehemently opposed, in support, or neutral. One that has specifically impacted my family and myself is the election of President Trump. My family is one of immigrants. One of Muslims. One of women. But most importantly, one of Americans. Witnessing the inflammatory and derogatory actions taken and words spoken has left us in a position feeling unaccepted in our own society. Quite honestly, as a teenager, I feel robbed of the autonomy I had felt my whole life. Having been raised an independent spirit while holding these preaching truths that America is a place of freedom is a dichotomy as opposed to being insulted by the leaders of this nation. I feel robbed of my opinions, and realize that how I live and how I will grow up is decided by people who aren’t me, who don’t belong to my generation. I feel as though those who deem us “the future of the world” denied my voice and invalidated my opinion upon deciding what kind of future will manifest.
Paramount decisions are being conducted at an increasingly compounding rate for future generations to inherit; thus, in order to create so much as a fingerprint of impact, I feel as though I will be, instead, cleaning up a mess left for me. Masses of boys and girls from historically and demographically brown neighborhoods are being incarcerated at unprecedented rates with longer average sentences than white counterparts. Oceans are continuously filling with waste, creating islands of debris. Global wealth is getting more and more polarized benefiting the already rich, while no proper steps are being taken to aid the impoverished masses. Gun violence in America is peaking to the point where in my own school, the inevitability of being attacked in our place of education is discussed. All these issues, and the people who are supposed to lead the way for our generation to prosper, would rather line their pockets with benefits—after all, for issues like this to manifest in the ways that they have for the amount of time they have, they must be lucrative. No offense, but older generations, you have the easy way out. You probably won’t live to see the culmination of your bad decisions, and that’s why we have inherited the job of fixing them. The future that has been constructed prior to my existence really isn’t in my hands; however, the future that my generation can make is one of prosperity and justice which will be taken on by the masses of other young beacons around the world.