Something New

On Wednesdays we wear pink, but on Tuesdays we spotlight someone or a group/business/organization doing the real work. The very work that I exist to support. I am not a bystander in the world of advocating for teenagers. There are so many of us, and I look forward to introducing them to you.

There are times when I am so in awe of what actual teens (or teen-serving organizations) are doing that I must step to the side to amplify what they are doing.

By amplify I mean I use the platforms I have (this blog, my Twitter, my literal voice when I talk with others about young people) to shout out the incredible work of others.

I first heard of the practice in a Vox article in 2016. The story came out of President Obama’s office meetings where less than half of his aides and staffers were women; women who had to “elbow their way into important meetings”. And even when they were there, their voices weren’t heard, or their ideas were “stolen” by others. So some women adopted a practice of amplifying each other.

“When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.”

– former Obama Administration aide who requested anonymity

These women used their speaking time to repeat what their colleagues said. They didn’t steal the thought as their own. They didn’t attribute the idea to someone undeserving.

Abby Wambach, the (now retired) US soccer player (or any gender) with the most international goal scored ever, has a similar take in her book Wolfpack on the topic of amplification:

Sometimes you will be the goal scorer. I was that goal scorer 184 times during my international career. If you watch footage of any of those goals, you’ll see that the moment after I score, I begin to point.
I point to the teammate who assisted.
I point to the defender who protected us.
I point to the midfielder who ran tirelessly.
I point to the coach who dreamed up this play.
I point to the bench player who willed this moment into existence.
Every goal I’ve ever scored belonged to my entire team.
When you score, you better start pointing.
When a member of the Pack scores, there are only two options: We’re either rushing or we’re pointing.
This goes for on the field and off.

– Abby Wambach

As the goal scorer, Abby knew that her voice – in her case, the goal – wasn’t her idea. It came from the work of others. Sure it led her to the solution, as any good group project brainstorming session does. But it wasn’t her idea or accomplishment alone.

I know that about my work, too. I, and other youth advocates, do not exist in a vacuum. It would be awfully boring if we were swirling among ourselves hearing the same things. Instead, I step out of my realm and see what other work is going on in the world outside of this blog, outside of the usual places you’d think to look for teens doing good.

So on Tuesdays, I will spotlight someone or a group doing the real work. Come back every Tuesday – or subscribe for email alerts – to learn about a person or group who has amazed me. Who has amazed themselves.

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