But there’s something else I’ve noticed lately, a trend not quite so widespread that it’s gained national attention, but one that could very well change how America deals with sexual assault.
Young women on TikTok are outing their alleged rapists.
Tired of schools that don’t take them seriously and a culture that often will still resort to victim-blaming, these women — some of them are still in high school — aren’t just naming the classmates and acquaintances that sexually assaulted them; they’re posting pictures of their bruises, sharing screenshots of apologetic text messages sent from their alleged attackers, and encouraging commenters to pressure school administrators and local police to take action.
Teens and first-time voters who jumped into political organizing this year are expanding their TikTok-focused playbook in an effort to boost the Senate Democratic candidates in Georgia’s crucial runoff elections next week.
Youth-led groups are drawing on successful campaigns they launched in the fall — leveraging influence from accounts with large TikTok followings and creating memes that mock Republican candidates — to mobilize young voters ahead of the Jan. 5 elections in the Peach State that will decide which party controls the Senate.
Haana Edenshaw is one of 54 activists from 31 countries interviewed for “Climate Girls Saving Our World.”
In the photo she’s with Greta Thunberg and 14 other plantiffs in a suit against the Canadian government.
Learning from Our Land
Since the age of nine, I spent every summer at T’alaan Stl’aang, on the edge of my archipelago, Haida Gwaii. It is only accessible by a four-hour boat ride, followed by an hour of hiking through the forest and beach to get to the camp, a bay near an ancient village site. The summer camp was created to help Haida youth learn about our culture. For the past two summers, I worked there as a junior guide and personally designed a Haida language curriculum for future students.
It is not your typical summer camp: any food that we do not gather ourselves has to be carried in, along with the freshwater with big backpacks full and five-gallon water jugs in each hand. We grew to appreciate where our food comes from, as the weather was often treacherous, and no boats could reach us for days at a time, extending the camp and forcing us to ration our food. You need to be able to improvise in these situations.
I guided participants on hikes up to six days long, one hundred pounds on our backs as we crossed bluffs, ancient village sites, rocky beaches and caves with shaman skulls. I traded shoes with the boy who only brought crocs and carried three backpacks at once if the little ones tired and the tide did not allow us to stop. The solo is twenty-four hours in your own bay with three matches and a potato, to reflect and learn from your surroundings, striking matches on your teeth or a promising rock, and creating shelters. We played a game where all the participants lift up the carpet of moss, and we engulf them, for reflection in which you see the world from the mosses’ point of view. This connection to the land has led me to reflect on how I can move to a relationship where I benefit Haida Gwaii as much as it benefits me.
Since childhood, I have tried to learn the Haida culture and language. Due to the effects of cultural genocide that my community deals with, my culture and language appear moribund. We have less than twenty fluent Haida speakers, all elders. The language is so complex that my dialect does not have a standardized orthography and has over forty tenses. MY mother approached learning the language as a full-time job for sixteen years, but does not consider herself fluent.
My language, Haida, is spoken fluently by under 20 people. My language is at risk, so I am doing whatever I can to learn it. I am an apprentice in this program, paid to spend time with an elder, culturally documenting important stories and learning Haida in an immersion setting. As the youngest apprentice in the program, I help with cooking and learn from the other apprentices and my mentor, Dian Brown.
Edge of the Knife is the first feature film made entirely in the Haida language. It was played by a cast of Haida people, most of whom are not fluent in the Haida language. It tells our story, not through the colonial lens. It is not made to showcase our culture to others, but for us to see it represented in an artistic format so often reserved for Western stories. I volunteered in the costume department of this movie, weaving traditional clothes, and I’m proud to say we won a CAFTCAD 2019 award for our costume work. I also attended to the needs of the elders as we camped with the crew and actors, filming in remote locations. Elders taught me about the responsibility of storytelling. Seeing our language on screen is another step towards revitalizing our language.
Learning Respect from Elders
I have always been aware of my responsibility as one of a handful of youth growing up in our culture. Since infancy, I have had the privilege of sitting at the feet of elders, able to hear their stories, while rolling my grandfather’s cigarettes and drinking tea with too much sugar and milk. Almost every story teaches that respect is of paramount importance to the Haida culture. Respect for elders and our people, respect for the other and utmost respect for the land we belong to, with its living beings and objects. Our stories name specific places, rocks and points and mountains, and the moon itself. If you know the stories well, every aspect of your landscape reminds you of respect.
Respect for the Haida is an essential part of keeping balance to the world, as it is as sharp as the edge of the knife and all too easy to fall off. It means approaching decisions with consciousness, and an acknowledgement that you are no better than the clams you dig up, or the tree you carve, or the blackflies on your window, so you had better hold yourself responsible for your actions. This means respecting the decisions of past generations and the interests of the future ones with every decision you make. It is reflected in the way the language is structured and in Haida protocol. It does not mean you cannot fight, or you cannot kill. Hunting and fishing and political disputes continue, but with respect.
I hold the primacy of respect to be absolutely true in my own life, as I see its effectiveness. The entire bottom portion of Haida Gwaii is protected, the heritage held in thousand year old trees and mortuary groves and house pits, due to a stand our nation took in 1985 to protect Athlii Gwaii. The young Haidas were willing to put down their lives and their futures to protect the area from logging and destruction without our consent. It could have gotten violent, but the elders went to the front line, saying that their lives would not be ruined if they were arrested. The images of elders in their regalia arrested on their land raised awareness about the blockade, and led to powerful precedent being set in Canadian law. We created the Gwaii Haanas agreement where on the first page the Crown acknowledges that Gwaii Haanas is Crown and the Haida acknowledge that it is Haida land, but despite this disagreement, they will work together.
Service and inquiry always intersect. I could fill a textbook with what I was taught while my community worked towards a common goal, whether against logging or pipelines invading sovereign Indigenous land or trophy hunting bears. I still don’t know much, but I’m intellectually growing around that the fire with my family and my community, filled with artists and activists. We learned the Latin and Haida names for all types of moss, which we made into little songs for summer camp participants. We learned that the rhizomes of dlaaying’waal (also known as Polypodium glycyrrhiza) make amazing tea and are good as an appetite suppressant should you be lost in the forest and need to quell your hunger. Some teachings can only be told in certain places, by elders who can draw lessons from every craig in the rock and point of the island.
I learned about Haida art history, the power and history behind the traditional formline and how the art of the people of the northwest coast played a part in inspiring the surrealism movement. On of its leaders, Andre Breton, said that it was “more surreal than the surrealists. I learned about how to can salmon and process medicines.
My great great grandmother taught my great grandmother about our culture in secret, singing songs with hushed voices and dancing with light footsteps, blankets covering the windows so the authorities would not see. My grandfather and his generation’s fought for decades in the courts against Canada to protect land that would have been destroyed by logging. The past generations have given me so much, with knowledge of thousands of years of history passed on by only one person who remembers it. Reflecting on my obligation to transmit the culture and safeguard the land for my grandchildren, they deserve to have as much land to fight for as I did. I do not know if I can hope that they will be able to live without fear for their land and culture.
Being an Exchange Student
I turned thirteen alone, on a plane to France with no French in my vocabulary beyond “bonjour.” I did not expect the exchange program to be easy because for the first time, I encountered people with a different worldview. As a Haida kid, a member of an indigenous nation in what is currently Canada, I did not fit in France. I was encouraged to not speak or think about my home, to focus on belonging. I was not allowed to speak English.
I learned French, how to handle academic failure, how to make crepes, play rugby, and smile when I wanted to scream in frustration. I learned that nice people can be racist, and misunderstandings influenced by one person’s careless words can be impossibly harmful. I did not know how to address it when people said things that hurt me, like my exchange sister saying that Christopher Columbus, the origin of my people’s suffering, is her hero. I reasoned that as a half Haida and half white person who grew up completely Haida, not identifying with my white half, I could simply switch while I was in France, and become Anna (the way they pronounced my name), but I learned I cannot do that. I learned what it feels like to not be able to express myself. I learned that I never wanted to feel like that again.
When I was about 14 in 2018, I founded Daman Tlagee becauseso many people in Haida Gwaii wereinterested in protecting our land, butthere wasn’t anavenue for youth to do that. Ithought this would be an amazing way forpeople like us to work together forenvironmental protection. We promoted reusable bag options inlieu of plastic bags, did a school strike,and helpedget funding so our science department could geta machine that turns plastics into fuelfor the school. Getting funding for a machine that turns plastic to fuel for my school has led to a passion for pyrolysis.
We worked alongside one of our science teachers at our Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay School, Daniel Schulbeck, to apply for grants and get money for a machine by Blest Company called Chloe, which turns plastics (types two, four, five, and six) into fuel to heat stoves, which is important for the school in the winter. We used bottle caps from recycling depots and school, etc. This is a good way to learn about some of the science of plastics and fuels with a wider conversation within the community. You can use it with a diesel engine with about 30% of this fuel and 70% diesel. We also organize direct action through a school strike and went to the Assembly for the Haida nation and had a bill passed unanimously to ban plastic bags on the island. We’ve had less success with legislation to do banning plastic bags in the municipalities on Haida Gwaii like new Masset and Queen Charlotte but we’ll continue to work on these issues.
A ceremony like potlatch can be a memorial or for a new chief, etc. and the gifts perpetrate our economies. It’s a giving economy; the one clan that’s giving is mainly the chief’s clan. It’s a way to increase social standing of a chief and transmit knowledge in ceremonies. Indigenous societies are the key to regenerative practices and revitalizing our environment, making it better than it was before because we cared for it for 15,000 years. In contrast, in 500 years, Western society has almost destroyed it.
Although I know that respect is integral to my life, it is not always convenient in practice. Last February, classmates and I were part of a peaceful occupation of the front steps of the B.C. legislature building in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people, whose territory was invaded by Canadian police to allow for a pipeline. Despite rain and police intimidation and white supremacists, we stayed. I was there for eleven nights, the first time I was involved in action that did not lead to success. We were frustrated with the system, the tacky monument to colonialism and we were surrounded by the hypocrisy of the Canadian government. The cold nights were a bit easier to deal with when filled with rage against Canada.
I spent much of the summer working to close down a fishing lodge that opened without consent on the land of the Haida, as the Council of the Haida nation issued a non-resident travel ban on our island to keep our elders safe from COVID 19. I was part of a group of strong women and matriarchs in my community, Daughters of the River. We occupied an ancient Haida village site in order to make our presence known to the lodge guests, and to communicate peacefully that their presence on our territory was not welcome. This direct action took place hours by boat from the nearest hint of internet or cell phone service. I learned over the summer how to repair a fishing net with a piece of driftwood, how strong women organizers effectively took action (we got the lodge to close early), and how to find 300-year-old artifacts, which prioritized my learning through action,
I want to be able to fully embody the principle of respect, not simply when it is convenient to me, in all my actions. In the past, I have always needed to balance my work of serving my people to my constant need for education, my main outlet of intellectual inquiry. While living on Haida Gwaii, I focused my life on service, and through service I became curious about more subjects and developed new passions. While at a blockade, the main purpose is to create change and voice our oppression, as much knowledge is transmitted around the camp fire, with our diverse community.
The appreciation for my voice and my land is the origin of my identity as an environmental activist. I have addressed crowds of thousands alongside climate activism leaders like Greta Thunberg and David Suzuki, and I have spoken at the UN multiple times. I do not give up. With my motivation for direct action coming from having no voice in France and my gratefulness for my community and my land, I will stick it out, no matter how hard it gets.
Deciding to speak at the UN in New York in the Haida language has made me further interested in the challenges of Haida translation. I struggled with keeping my respect for the systems and people carrying out all of these injustices. My grandfather, who was president of the Council of the Haida Nation and is the chief of the Skedans clan, called me. When he heard the justified anger and frustration in my voice, he told me to stop, saying that I had to be smarter than that. So I tried my best, and though it is not as fun as raging against the system, it is morally correct. Respecting something that is harming you takes away some of its power, and allows your fight to come from a less volatile place than anger, though anger may fuel quicker. I hold respect true ideologically, though sometimes in practice I fail.
Lawsuit Against the Canadian Government
I am one of fifteen youth plaintiffs taking legal action against the federal Canadian government for their inaction on the climate crisis as it affects our rights under the Canadian Charter. Recently, our claims were struck in the courts. The judge ruled that the issues of the climate crisis are too big for the courts to keep the government accountable. What other system of justice is there to keep the government accountable? Although we will appeal, this led me to realize that for my fight for climate justice and a better life for my community, there is no winning. I will continue to fight all of my life, so the next generation has at least as much to fight for as me.
These are books I read the past year, the asterisk means they were required reading for school.
Dao De Jing,* Lao Tzu
Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer
Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii: Life Beyond Settler Colonialism, Joseph Weiss
Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig
Matigari,* Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
Maus,* Art Spiegelman
The Roundhouse,* Louise Erdrich
The Merchant of Venice,* William Shakespeare
The Other, Ryszard Kapuściński
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
Haida Texts and Myths, John R. Swanton
The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut
Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut
Just Kids, Patti Smith
M Train, Patti Smith
We Have Only This Life to Live, Jean-Paul Sartre
Why the World Does Not Exist, Markus Gabriel
The Poetry of Emily Dickinson, Emily Dickinson
Realizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People,* Jennifer Preston, Paul Joffe, Jackie Hartley
From Where I Stand,* Jody Wilson-Raybould
Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Equal Rites, Terry Pratchett
Nation, Terry Pratchett
Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Emma, Jane Austen
Gathering Moss, Robin Wall Kimmerer
Kongi’s Harvest, Wole Soyinka
The Collected Poetry, Léopold Sédar Senghor
Beloved,* Toni Morrison
Wide Sargasso Sea,* Jean Rhys
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the first philosophy book I ever read, and I have been hooked ever since. I picked this book at age fifteen as the title was cool. I still re-read my faded and highlighted annotated copy, my companion on every plane and camping trip. This book challenged my ideas in a way I never encountered before. It explained cutting the world up into categories and how one could deal with something that cannot as easily be categorized. My continued interest in philosophy has taught me to think critically, find out how to apply philosophical concepts to my life and to art I see, and find flaws in ways of thought, which increases my understanding of every course.
“On Aug. 10, 21-year-old student Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul’s life changed forever. That’s the night she took to the stage at a rally at Thammasat University outside Bangkok and read a 10-point manifesto aimed at reform of Thailand’s politically powerful monarchy — a taboo subject in the kingdom, where the royal family is protected by strict laws that can land critics in jail.
At an interview off campus, she said it was an assignment she always thought was hers.
“I asked for it. I want to be the one to read that manifesto,” she said. “Because I want to be the one to change things in this country. And I think this is the chance to do that.”
Who are the Climate Girl Activists Saving Our World?
I interviewed 54 young women activists from 31 countries to find out what motivates them and their strategies to save our world. Our typical activist is first-born (two-thirds of them), optimistic, communicative, feminist, determined, passionate, and caring. She was motivated to take action either by well-known girl activists or by her parents. The most common career goal is to influence policy by working in government or an NGO (non-governmental organization). Our activists think women are the majority of climate activists because they are more compassionate and have a special connection with nature, they’re most harmed by climate disasters, and, because of sexism, they know they have to work hard to achieve their goals. The activists recharge by being in nature and being with family and friends. They think Gen Z is powerful and the best hope for saving our world. They’re righteously angry at older generations for their destruction, but not their parents, who they find supportive, and they’re appreciative of adult allies.
Birth Order (most were born in the 2000s) Two-thirds are first or only children.
Only child: 12
Second born: 8
Third or more: 9 (In my study of visionary scientists 36 were first-born and 26 were latter-born)
They’re realists but feel they have to have hope to continue working so hard. (See The Freedom Writers Diary by teacher Erin Gruwell who taught hope as a cognitive skill to her “at-risk” students.) Thunberg says things may look “dark and hopeless,” but she maintains hope because of the awakening shown by grassroots movements like #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and School Strike (FFF).
Caring, kind: 12
Hard worker: 4
Scientific, happy: 2
Work for an NGO. 11
Work in government policy. 7
Green business. 6
Environmental scientist. 6
All but two. These two believe in equality but don’t use the feminist label. The others were generally very enthusiastic, saying “100%,” etc.