My Bag

Hello

My name is Jameela Jamil. Welcome To I Weigh Community.

Two years ago we started an Instagram account to try to create a safe and radically inclusive space on social media. A lot of us want to help others and change the world for the better, but don’t know where to start.

Activism can seem daunting. Sometimes it’s just hard and lonely. At I Weigh Community, we don’t believe it has to be that way. We believe in brick-by-brick activism, and making a difference in large numbers. We’re going to have to come together and do this as one to really shift the narrative of our society.

I Weigh Community will introduce you to new voices, artists, activists and movements. These are the people we believe we need to listen to. We are still learning, and we’re inviting you to come and learn alongside us so we can all grow together. It’s never too late to want to help and understand each other better.

This movement is so important to me, and I look forward to getting to know you all.

Love,
Jam x

Meet NYC’s Youth Climate Strike Organizers

On September 20th, 2019, over 300,000 people gathered in New York City to strike and demand action on climate change. Two days after the march, I Weigh gathered with the leading teen organisers for a frank discussion in Prospect Park. Here’s what they had to say.

CALVIN YANG (17)

National Media Coordinator for Fridays for Future USA, Media Coordinator for Fridays for Future NYC,  Head of Climate Youths Canada, Head of Board of Directors for Canadian Youth Alliance for Climate Action (CYACA), Core Committee Member of NY Climate Strike Coalition and Fridays for Future NYC.

On common misconceptions…
A common misconception people have is they think that protests won’t do anything, but they actually will. Because of Greta (Thunberg)’s movement, because of what Fridays for Future has been in Europe, climate change is now one of the top concerns that Europeans have across the political spectrum. In the European parliamentary elections in June, the Green Party actually gained a lot of seats and became a major voice [for climate justice] in European parliament. 

On where to go next…
A lot of the climate strikes that are going on right now are limited to democratic countries around the world. I had a conversation with my friend in China this morning and he said that he wants to strike out there. He wants to strike for the future of our planet, but he can’t do that because China is censoring protests. If you are to demonstrate on the street, you’ll be put in jail and get sentenced for 10 or 20 years for public obstruction. That is what’s going on right now. I don’t know how, but we need to find a way to ensure that people from all the countries around the world have this opportunity to strike with us. 

On what it means to be a “normal teenager”…
Being a climate activist should be part of being a normal teenager.

AZALEA DANES (17)

Communications Coordinator for Fridays for Future NYC, Core Organizer for Fridays for Future NYC, National Communications Director for Extinction Rebellion Youth US.

On common misconceptions…
The idea that the movement is a female upper middle class, white face who’s out here championing for the polar bears and biodiversity is a misconception. Bringing the justice aspect into it, we’re acknowledging the notion of radical inclusivity in every single layer of our organizing. We mirror the world that we want to live in with collective decision-making and a lack of hierarchy. With love and rage, we are building a better world. 

On recent wins…
A victory that really stood out to me was when The New York Times was hosting the Oil & Money Conference which is, pardon my French, fucking ridiculous. It’s supposed to be at least a semi left-wing institution of media coverage. [Hosting the Oil & Money Conference] directly goes against the facts, and so Extinction Rebellion had incredible protests in front of the New York Times for a month and they dropped the Conference. They were co- hosting it, and that was a direct result of our action. 

The New York Times was hosting the Oil & Money Conference which is, pardon my French, fucking ridiculous.

On what makes her generation different…
Our generation is championing the idea of climate justice and not of environmentalism because we recognize that the climate crisis intrinsically is linked to humanitarian issues. In order to get stuff done, we have to approach things from a human lens and from an emotional lens. 

On the relationship between activism and self-love…
I’ve grown up in the fashion industry, my parents are fashion designers. My entire life, they’ve always stressed that your ideas are more important than how you look. But because I’ve grown up in this industry, I’ve always been very conscious of how I look. The biggest shift I’ve seen in myself in the past six months is that I care so infinitely less about how I look on a daily basis. As a 16-year-old girl that is the most freeing thing. 

SOPHIE ANDERSON (16)

Co-National Coordinator for XR Youth US (@xryouthus), Core Committee of the NYC Strike Coalition.

On working with the media…
We’re building climate activists, and with every single strike that happens, we’re making the climate crisis and the climate emergency the number one issue. We need concerts and we need Jaden Smith and Willow Smith and famous faces championing this. We have to work with the media to get as much publicity and the highest ranking media outlets as possible. We just need attention. 

[Activism] actually changed my mentality. I don’t care what I look like.

On recent wins…
Extinction Rebellion did 11 days of protests in London and directly after, the UK declared a climate emergency. The same thing happened in New York City as a direct result of the students’ strikes, and the Extinction Rebellion continued action. People were out on the streets every single week doing action, and then we won. New York City declared a [Climate] Emergency.

On activism and self love…
I’ve been looking through the thousands of photos of us from the strike and there’s a picture of me with one of our organizers, Sima, where we are hugging each other. And there’s a picture of Olivia and I yelling into this microphone. And there’s all these amazing pictures of us where I’m like, “Okay, yeah maybe that’s not the most flattering photo of me,” but [activism] actually changed my mentality. I don’t care what I look like. I was so happy in that moment. I love myself in that photo and that is what matters. 

ALESSANDRO dal BON (16)

Lead Organizer for Fridays for Future NYCNew York State Coordinator for Fridays for Future USA.

On the importance of striking…
What I get a lot [from my friends] is that striking is ineffective or there is no point in striking for assignment. What I usually say is if we can’t vote, how is our voice going to be heard?  

On responses from politicians…
When we were organizing the September 20th strike, we had our three demands, and we haven’t seen anyone talking about those demands. The politicians don’t want to talk to us. They’re like, “Yeah, we’re listening to the youth,” when they’re not. They’re not meeting with the youth. The presidential candidates don’t care. We’re striking for our future, and they come up with these huge bills, $16 trillion, and they’re not listening to the youth. It’s ridiculous. They’re senators, they’re representatives, and they’re not doing anything. They say they support the climate strikes. No, don’t support the climate strike. Find actual solutions. 

 

We had our three demands, and we haven’t seen anyone talking about those demands. The politicians don’t want to talk to us.

On how the UN treats Greta…
Greta always says, “It’s not about me. It’s about the planet.” The UN are making a trophy out of Greta. They’re pushing a narrative. They’re saying Greta is a great person, which she is. She’s amazing but Greta keeps on saying, “it’s not about me.” Instead of caring about the planet, they care about Greta, which I think is just unbelievable. 

On social media…
Social media is an important tool that we use for activism. It’s helped us mobilize a lot of people and be connected internationally. But it doesn’t end with social media. Posting on your Instagram story is great, but it’s not enough. If you don’t go to those protests, if you don’t actually take action, you’re not doing enough. 

On activism and self-love…
When there’s so many cameras around you, you become comfortable being in front of the camera and you don’t really care anymore about how you look.  You care more about what you say and what you believe in. You start caring less about, “Oh, do I look good in this picture?” and instead, “Did I look like a badass while striking for climate?” 

OLIVIA WOHLGEMUTH (17)

Outreach Coordinator/Core Committee for Fridays for Future NYC, XR Youth NYC Coordinator.

On the UN Youth Climate Summit…
I was really excited to be in a room with these [youth organizers]. I thought that we were going to have conversations about making change and what we wanted to see in the UN General Assembly. But when we got there, that wasn’t the case. It was a lot of workshops led by adults. The whole thing felt like a photo op. Our voices were not actually being heard. They were just constructing it to make us feel like they were, when in reality you could see right through it. There were workshops on how to use Instagram and iMovie to help our movement and I’m like, “We just organized 4 million people around the world. You’re going to give us a workshop on how to use iMovie …” It was insulting.

This is how you learn to exist in the world as someone who’s contributing something positive to society.

On learning climate activism…
In schools we’re not taught why we should care, or how urgent the climate crisis is. I never heard the word climate justice until I became an activist, and that’s ridiculous. This is how you learn to exist in the world as someone who’s contributing something positive to society.

On social media…
Social media has done a lot to rewire the brains of our generation. We’re lazier, we have shorter attention spans. Our life exists a lot less face-to-face and we’re content with that. All of those three things I just mentioned are pretty detrimental to real activism because people think that if they swipe and repost something on their story, then they’ve done enough. They think that if they’re talking to people over social media, [they] don’t have to have the face-to-face interactions. At the end, [speaking in person] is essential for connecting about optimism and connecting about the climate crisis.

Contributors:

  • Sophia Jennings

    Sophia Jennings is the Head of Content at I Weigh. Prior to I Weigh, she was the Creative Executive at The Creative Studio, a production company founded by Scooter Braun Projects and BBH LA. Her writing has been published by Rolling Stone, MTV, The Coveteur, and numerous other publications. 

    Photo Credit: Lily Vetch

  • Bryan Luna

    Bryan Luna is a Peruvian American from Brooklyn, NY. He has been doing photography for over 5 years and his work ranges from editorial to commercial. He currently really enjoys shooting portraiture.

    Photo Credit: Jessup Deane