“If I Had a Trillion Dollars” is a nationwide youth video contest sponsored by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the National Priorities Project (NPP) that calls attention to the $1 trillion the U.S. has already spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 45 videos were submitted addressing the war budget and how they would spend the $1 trillion to better their communities, the U.S., and the world. Several of these videos were shown at Busboys & Poets and some of the winners were present to discuss them. In these inspirational and wonderfully produced videos, the mostly high-school-aged youth discussed conditions of inequality they see everyday in their communities. Their top spending priorities were education, healthcare, homelessness, green energy and violence in our communities.
Also present were several students from the AFSC human rights education program at Friendship High School in D.C. who gave their versions of State of the Union addresses. Their speeches also addressed many of the same issues. These students discussed using the military as a way of helping, aiding, and doing outreach. They stressed that it would be better used for humanitarian efforts and disaster relief.
The youth were passionate, inspiring, and very knowledgeable. This event was an excellent way to connect the military budget to local conditions of social and economic inequality at a crucial time of increased funding cuts and hard hits on state and local budgets. The message of the youth was to defund military and invest the money back into our communities and social programs.
By Ana Woodbury