On September 9, 2016, a diverse coalition of artists, musicians and activists gathered at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco for a demonstration and music concert against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Their diverse voices shared a common truth: the proposed free trade agreement between 12 countries bordering the Pacific Ocean would undermine democracy and continue a legacy of overseas human rights violations and environmental exploitation. Among the rally attendees, seven ACE Action Fellows raised their concern about the impacts of the TPP on youth.
"If there isn't a protest, be the protest" was the motto of the evening at the Rock Against the TPP concert and rally earlier this month. When our group arrived at the TPP rally, there were barely a dozen demonstrators present, and none of them were protesting. We soon realized that we needed to take the lead. As a team, we launched our own demonstration in the middle of a busy San Francisco intersection and we killed it! Though we did encounter a couple tough critics, we kept things positive learned to pick our battles. With our signs, chants and rally cries, we worked together to educate others about the TPP and its effects.
I felt intimidated...but my ACE team encouraged me to step up and share why we were trying to make a difference.
Right before entering the actual concert, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by a journalist from CREDO Action. I felt intimidated by the reporter’s questions and afraid I would mess up my responses, but my ACE team encouraged me to step up and share why we were trying to make a difference. Talking about why I was there fired me up even more, and by the time we entered the concert the ACE squad was rearing to go!
Inside the venue, Action Fellows Keliana, Matthew and Caroline joined me in tabling for the Food and Water Watch (FWW). FWW’s Northern California Organizer, Ella Teevan, taught us more about the TPP’s impacts on agriculture, and showed us how to ask for petition signatures from event attendees. Learning how to effectively communicate our ideas and opinions to others is a skill we have been working on since starting the Fellowship, and this event was the perfect place to put what we had learned into action.
While we were definitely the youngest at the event, we left a significant impact. Many people asked us why we were there and why we cared, while also telling us that they felt the future was more secure after seeing high schoolers taking action. At some points it was a bit overwhelming having information thrown at us from all around, but we did our best to absorb all we could.
Taking a look around the ballroom as we danced made me realize just how big of an impact the TPP could have. People of all different backgrounds, ages, professions, and situations were in attendance, all sharing their passion against the TPP. We heard from a nurse who told us about how the TPP would make it harder for patients to afford and have access to the medications they need, and how that would affect her career. The Rock Against the TPP event reminded me that the TPP is not a single person issue, but instead would impact our entire culture. It will put profit over human rights and corporations over people. We have to keep fighting to stop it.