When I was in elementary school, I remember listening to the political news on the radio with my parents. “Politics is so boring!” I said. “No, it’s not. When you get older, you’ll see,” my dad replied. But I didn't believe him. “I’m never going to be interested in politics,” I pledged.
At that time, I just viewed politics as another one of those adult things, like taxes or work. I had no idea what politics really was. However, these last couple years, I have become so much more involved.
As a young person living in a very politically charged country, I feel that politics is far more important than ever. Many people dismiss politics, because they don’t like getting involved with something so controversial, or because they feel like it's not something that's important. I see this among my friends. They tell me they can still be friendly with people whose political opinions differ from theirs just by avoiding the topic and refusing to discuss it.
As someone who comes from many marginalized groups, I cannot do the same. Political actions directly affect me. When male politicians decide that I don’t deserve control over my own body, that affects me. When heterosexual politicians believe that I don’t deserve to choose who I marry, that affects me. I cannot be friends with someone whose beliefs disrespect and invalidate my existence.
Many of my acquaintances don’t understand why I “get so worked up about politics” or why can't I "just ignore it.” Most of these people have the privilege to not be directly impacted by the decisions made by politicians. For people like me, we’re not so lucky. When I fight for politics, I’m fighting for myself. I’m fighting against decisions that could devalue who I am, and take away my choices.
Many people I know don't care about the decisions that impact others. When did we decide as a society that we should only be passionate about things that affect us? When did we decide to ignore people whose lives could be ruined by actions from more privileged politicians?
I am the daughter of Indian immigrants, living in a society where some are afraid that people who look like me are terrorists. I am a woman, living in a society where people believe they can control my body and actions. When people’s opinions begin to affect my life, or the life of others, I have to fight back and stand up for the things I believe in. I believe that politics are infinitely important and they should be to every person who lives in this country, and even on this planet, because, at some point, these policies directly impact each and every person.
I believe that young people should at least familiarize themselves with what is happening throughout the world, and I encourage them to get involved with local, national, and even global politics, because the decisions made now will create the future that we young people will live in.
Anoushka Ambavanekar is a KQED Youth Media contributor. She is 15 and attends Vista del Lago High School in Folsom.