YOUth In Power - Zamir Ticknor

Image:    Zamir Ticknor

Image: Zamir Ticknor

We are the future, therefore we hold the power of not just the present, but the next generation. Our words, opinions, and actions will be affecting our generation and the generations to come. Although this power has been on the down-low for decades, the youth is finally realizing how important it is to speak out and amplify their own voices, and/or even others. We, the youth have the responsibility to acknowledge flaws in society and make a difference just as equivalently or even more than adults. The youth has already influenced drastic change in policy whether it is addressing climate change radically, or even raising the question of gun control after centuries of none. We have a voice and we have to use it in the best of our ability; even if we lose our voice, actions speak more than words which can be seen in numerous movements driving worldwide policy.
— Zamir Ticknor

Although a fairly new activist, Zamir is passionate about climate action and involved in many organizations to further his cause. As a matter of fact, he is the Outreach Director for the Virginia Youth Climate Strike.

I am a fairly new activist who is involved in the Virginia Youth Climate Strike Movement where I have worked with other amazing individuals that organizes strikes demanding climate justice throughout Virginia. Although Virginia is now considered a blue state, many areas of the state is still hardcore red and we, as a group and as an organization are trying to amplify these voices that are not only being affected by climate change in these rural areas but to also emphasize the power of youth voices in not only Virginia but in the world as well. Although I am passionate about climate justice, I am also passionate about the importance of acknowledging and uplifting multiculturalism/individuals who are multicultural. The reason I joined the Youth Climate Strike movement was that I learned how privileged I was to be someone who doesn't have to be as affected by climate change as others do. A lot of people in underdeveloped countries are introduced to the effects of climate change at a very young age while also not having as much of a say policy-wise; Me acknowledging that through my life abroad has not only aspired me to amplify voices who can't speak for themselves, but it also made me become more intersectional as a person. I am also a writer for The Defiant Movement and a Zero Hour ambassador. I am also involved in SpaceToSpeak, an organization that aspires to destigmatize conversations in regards to sexual violence.

Image:    Zamir Ticknor

Image: Zamir Ticknor

Zamir’s complex identity as a biracial Bangladeshi-American greatly influences how he sees the world and the work he does within his community and beyond.

Identity is a rollercoaster for me. I identify as biracial, or in other words, multicultural. I am half Bangladeshi and half American. Throughout my life, I have had trouble with my identity because I may not feel like either a Bangladeshi or an American- somewhere in the middle perhaps :). But, I have not felt included in either culture which has put me into this constant pool of perplexing enigmas that I cannot solve. This has taken a toll into basically all aspects of my life: religion, college checkmarks, conversations, applications, etc. With me being biracial, I have seen the drastic effects of climate change in my home of Bangladesh. When it comes to the environment, Bangladesh is very affected by it. In the current day, if climate change continues to worsen, Bangladesh will seize to exist because of the juxtaposition of the Bay of Bengal. My identity--in a way--gave me a huge nudge towards the right direction: to not just be someone who stands aside and wait for the adults to do something about this issue that is not getting the attention it needs. Another way that my identity has influenced me is the intersection of climate justice and culture. For example, In not only Bangladeshi culture but many others, meat is a huge part of it and some environmental activists fail to intersect culture within the mix. The rise of veganism intrigued me, but I also understood and acknowledged that individuals should have the option to keep in touch with their culture. Although going vegan is a great option for many individuals, I wanted to see what else I could do that could save the planet but still keep respect for my culture. In addition, I have lived all around the world, spanning from India, Cameroon, Ghana, and East Timor. This global mindset that I grew up with gave me a more worldwide perspective towards the climate justice movement. I directly saw the toll of climate change in these underdeveloped countries which made me, even further, aspire to try and make a difference while acknowledging worldwide and cultural perspectives.

Being activist in today’s climate can often be mentally and emotionally draining. Zamir discusses how this has impacted him, and what advice he has for other activists that may be going through the same thing.

Mental health is definitely an issue in the activism movement because being a youth activist is very hard. We have to keep up with our school work while maintaining extracurriculars and good scores. Especially for me, I am planning to pursue the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma which is a very rigorous diploma which has had a history of taking a toll on one's mental health. Some advice that I have for activists and aspiring activists is to take a break. Yes the world needs change and we need to inflict this change, but mental health is important and it is better for yourself to be in a better mental state while being an activist than someone who has mental health problems that attempt to juggle through multiple activities and events that you cannot. Also, talk to people, talk to the organizations you work with to take a small break; when I decided to take a small break, my peers were all very supportive and I changed for the better of myself, my community, and my activism.

Image:    Zamir Ticknor

Image: Zamir Ticknor

Despite the many reasons why it may become easy to lose hope, Zamir remains hopeful with youth at the forefront of political and social movements.

What makes me hopeful about the future is that youth are finally taking action. For decades, the youth hasn't been involved in politics as much as nowadays. Adults weren't and still are doubtful on the number of youth voters and the opinion of the youth, but for the past couple of years, the world has seen the rise of youth movements, and a rise in awareness of politics. I went up to a ten-year-old the other day and had a full-on conversation about politics for thirty minutes! I am hopeful that this rise in youth awareness and activism is going to make a huge impact in modern world politics.

Zamir believes that his life is defiant - he defies barriers by unapologetically representing and amplifying Bangladeshi voices.

I feel like my entire life is defiant. I am a biracial kid, which was illegal in the United States until the late 1960s (after Loving v. Virginia). I have had identity issues my entire life and I am still living. However, the major event that made me reflect on my defiance was when I was told that there is no such thing as being a Bangladeshi or even that I am not a Bangladeshi. I did not take this to heart, and instead, I represented Bangladesh with pride whether it was wearing my panjabi in public, or amplifying Bangladeshi voices and speaking of a country that is often forgotten. I am proud of who I am--a Bangladeshi American--and that in itself, is defiant.