By Elizabeth Edwards, Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change organizer
Injustice doesn’t stop for a pandemic. In fact, many injustices have only been heightened by this pandemic. From the glaring racial disparity in COVID deaths and cases to the economic inequality caused by shutdowns and lay-offs to the deepening digital divide, COVID continues to widen the gap in equity. Additionally, the recent tragedies we faced serve as a grim reminder that pre-COVID injustices survive, despite the many changes our country has faced.
I’ve been struck by just how timely Blue Future’s work is. The nature of the issues we address is so pressing that some of the topics of our trainings corresponded directly to tragedies in our country. The same week that we discussed climate change, a devastating winter storm struck Texas. Following our training on gun control, the country faced two mass shootings. The week of Blue Future’s abolition teach-in, yet another Black man was murdered by the police. Due to Blue Future’s timeliness, we were able to call seniors in Texas, advocate for gun control, and learn about abolition to directly combat the injustices we see every day. It just goes to show that these issues are unrelenting, and the work we do matters.
Although COVID has, in many cases, caused or exacerbated these problems, it also offered a new method of addressing them: going virtual. While the technology existed pre-COVID, we didn’t always take advantage of it. The virtual nature of our Blue Future trainings expands accessibility and lengthens their reach. Despite the Zoom fatigue, some may be feeling, I still find it easier to hop on a video call from the comfort of my own home than having to get myself to a physical meeting. Additionally, in a time so lacking in human connection, weekly Blue Future meetings offered a much-needed sense of community.
Within that community, I learned new digital skills, such as phone-banking, tweet-storming, and deep canvassing over the phone. All of my meetings with D.C. representatives have been virtual, which may have lessened some obstacles to connecting with them. I’ve gained Zoom etiquette experience that I can apply to job interviews, meetings, and other professional experiences. I also learned graphic design, social media, and virtual presentation skills in order to expand the reach of our Youth Advisory Council.
Although the pandemic made virtual advocacy a necessity, it’s proven to be an effective approach. With virtual advocacy, the scope is much wider. I’ve advocated for policies, candidates, and causes across the country, something that is only possible because of virtual advocacy. I think that pandemic has also forced people to pay attention to things they may not have before and to spend a lot of time on digital platforms. Blue Future has ensured that we take advantage of that opportunity to advocate for change.
It has been heartening to connect with other young people and see that there are others who want to reimagine the future of our country. I am grateful to have been in the presence of these inspiring youth, as well as all of the incredible speakers we had in our trainings. Blue Future has offered virtual connection, learning experiences, and purpose in the midst of a pandemic that tries its best to quell those things. I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish in the future.
About Elizabeth: Elizabeth Edwards (she/her) is a recent graduate of American University and resident of Washington, D.C. She has worked with D.C. youth organizations such as 826DC, Latino Student Fund, and Latin American Youth Center and looks forward to amplifying youth voices for progressive change and organizing for issues such as housing equality, education equity, democracy reform, and environmental and racial justice.