Back in the 1990s, I was groomed to be a conservative activist. This was before the days of viral YouTube videos and smartphones. In those days, the Internet was confined to clunky desktop computers on dial-up connections. Whenever we could, we’d advocate for conservative political campaigns or participate in anti-abortion rallies.
I was taught to call into AM radio talk shows to repeat conservative talking points, or write letters to newspapers about abortion and family values. Eventually, I became an adult and began my exodus from the Republican party. Looking back now, it is extremely embarrassing to think about, but it was a learning experience that I now use against the right-wing.
Over the past year or so, right-wing websites have made a big deal about young man from Georgia named CJ Pearson. Mr. Pearson is an African-American teenager who has gained a lot of attention in conservative circles for his videos bashing President Obama and Democrats.
Now CJ Pearson has apparently renounced his activism for the Republican Party and has announced his intentions to be independent in his viewpoints.
“Over the past few days, I thought about essentially how I don’t want people to follow me because I’m that anti-Obama kid, or who called out Hillary Clinton or who took Bernie Sanders to task,” Pearson said. “I don’t want to be the conservative wonder kid that people follow because I make them feel good and like young people are part of their movement. I want to be followed because I’m the voice of a generation that doesn’t have a voice at the table.”
He said the video of Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a police officer in Chicago helped open his eyes to the systemic problems of racial discrimination in America and the need to look at the issues objectively. (Source)
I’m going to remain skeptical on this announcement, considering the fact that this young man has a history of making things up – including the claim that he was blocked by President Obama on Twitter. I have no doubt that his parents have used his Internet fame for their own benefit, which is par for the course for political activism and our society’s obsession with going viral.
CJ Pearson was also named as a youth leader for Ted Cruz’s campaign, and has been a conservative celebrity on social media. Now, if we’re taking him at his word, he wants to turn away from that and become independent.
Here’s my advice for CJ Pearson, as someone who was indoctrinated into right-wing politics at an early age: go enjoy being a kid and leave the politics behind. Both liberals and conservatives love to use kids as props for their agenda, and they’re both convinced that what they’re doing is right and justified.
You’re only a kid once, and once you’re an adult, you can decide whether you want to be a progressive or a conservative. Put the political agendas that other people want to use you for aside, and go be a kid. Take it from me, you’re only young once.
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