With both in-person schooling and programs moving online, I didn’t have the resources at the time to transition to fully relying on digital platforms. I had adapted to having hands-on experiences and collaborating with other students in the same space to advocate for student voice and BIPOC communities. As a Gem Project fellow, I was really worried about how engaging the program could still be and how much I’d be learning about youth activism if our resources are limited. But The Gem Project’s effort to replicate the in-person sessions truly created a swift transition and connection between the first half of the semester to the last. Having the opportunity to learn about Afro-futurism and the issues the black community faces in different areas that make up our society was truly eye-opening and expanded my knowledge on social justice issues.
The communities I have joined during this pandemic have given me a platform to voice my concerns about the many injustices BIPOC communities are facing and have been spotlighted frequently in the past months. As a recent high school graduate attending university, it was important for me to research and put forth information about racism within the education system, the knowledge I had acquired through The Gem Project sessions helped when writing an issue brief about systematic problems with the education system with my group members. To efficiently produce an effective issue brief that emphasizes the group’s points and has evidence to back it up, we used alternative methods of working as a team since we were used to working in-person. In short, dividing the work into sections and ultimately connecting all of our points to a central idea helped the structure of the brief and the collaborative.
In-person protests, rallies, and demonstrations have been a big part of historical changes within the American society against racism and discrimination of all forms, but as we begin to rely on the internet, digital resources and platforms are becoming the safest way to continue to advocate and inform the world. As a change agent, it is not only my duty to stand up for marginalized communities but also to continue to influence others to stay safe and indoors to flatten the curve, to remind others that it is possible to be a change agent and stay quarantined.
For breakfast this morning. I ate a Dunkin’ Donuts inspired bacon, egg, and cheese bagel with freshly squeezed orange juice.
Author: Ayoko Kessouagni is a recent high school graduate attending Rutgers University- Newark, pursuing a degree in marketing with a concentration in business of fashion. She is a two year Gem Project fellow and has worked to create lasting change within her community and beyond. In using her artistic skills Kessouagni has made multiple art pieces spotlighting black oppression, while also taking part in briefs that further emphasizes the effects of discrimination in our society.