Thursday, November 03, 2005

Beyond FEATURES: ColorLines Magazine

ColorLines magazine is a testament to the potential of mass media to 1) raise awareness of critical issues faced by various Americans, 2) promote activism, and 3) demand accountability. In one current article, “Don’t Forget about Us: Young People in the Social Security Fight,” contributor Andrea Batista Schlesinger serves as an informed, capable representative of college-age Americans, the group that will be the first to face a truly uncertain future if Social Security is dismantled.

“Some think that we’re unlikely to mobilize significant numbers of young people around Social Security,” Schlesinger writes. “They say that the issue is a non-starter for those who think of retirement as an abstraction. I learned how faulty this assumption was in the late 1990s, when I ran a campaign to engage college students in a conversation about the program’s future. We visited campuses all across the country, including Hawaii, Florida, Appalachia and the Bronx, speaking with thousands of students. We found a population that knew dangerously little about Social Security butwas hungry to know more.

“We need to tap into the hopes of young Americans and not just their fears. We need to put this conversation in context. And the context is the reality of their lives.

“We need to be asking young people, what has the market done for you lately?

“People are entering adulthood burdened with enormous debt. For the nearly two-thirds of college students with student loans, they owe $19,000 on average. Plus, the typical college student leaves school with another $3,000 on the cards, with interest rates climbing as fast as they can.

“Despite our best efforts, this is our economic reality and our economic future, and it’s not going to change until we start talking about it.”

ColorLines does not sell fluff to their readers, even young readers, in return for high-end advertising. A project of the Applied Research Center, this publication is driven instead by a mission; its editors and contributors are anxious to effect change in a world in which so many people continue to be short-changed. We’re talking far beyond features here, and it’s a much-needed approach.


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