Reflecting on my TED Talk a Year Later

Noah Tesfaye
6 min readJun 28, 2020

A few days ago, I was scrolling through some older tweets and remembered I still had my TED talk pinned to the top of my feed. I sort of forgot it was there, and I hadn’t seen it in a year. I don’t come back to it at all, but on a random afternoon, I decided to rewatch and listen to what I had to say in March of 2019. It had been right around the start of the primary and I had been chronicling my own thoughts and ideas on the blog at the time. I was looking at how low youth voter turnout was, and I was frustrated and contemplating how to increase turnout with people my age. I saw disinterest in politics from people my age as a symptom to a greater problem about young people not knowing how to get involved in politics and schools failing them to not teach civics in a beneficial manner. I saw voting and getting involved in electoral politics as the only way to enact the change we want to see in the world.

A little over a year later, however, I see nearly all of the topics I mentioned in a completely different way, from voting to interpreting how people my age feel about politics to civics education. In many ways, it’s sort of the power of the blog and everything that’s spurred my growth as a person and thinker that got me to see the world a different way. I’m not here to say at all that I don’t stand by what I knew then because that’s all I did know. But now, my horizons and my view on the world as a whole has dramatically shifted in allowing me to have a more nuanced understanding of why I believe in the things I do.

With respect to youth voting and youth activism, I’m realizing how disconnected and detached politics is from the material conditions of many students like me, particularly students of color. What we’ve seen as of late on a national scale are young people leading organizations and policy initiatives outside the realm of solely backing a candidate or working on a campaign. These movements that we see on the national stage today have existed for several years, even decades, yet the nation is just learning about their fights. It’s detached from the idea that we must rely upon electing someone that does what they ran on but rather asks that whoever is in office, they advance our agenda. That’s vastly different, but I believe, a more effective way to think about why young people may not be as interested in the political…

Noah Tesfaye

Just someone trying to share my story and find who I am, one post at a time