Reverend Itang Young tends to be drawn to big challenges. That’s why she has dedicated much of her time and talents toward advocating for youth, environmental justice, and women and girls in marginalized communities. She has built her personal and professional life around a unique view of the interdependency of faith and science and the universal value of creating community. Population Media Center (PMC) is pleased to announce that on March 14th, Reverend Young became part of the PMC community by joining our Board of Directors.
“I’m looking forward to working with PMC to change social perceptions,” says Reverend Young. “This is in alignment with my personal and professional goals. I’m excited about the opportunity to share and bring a different perspective to the work.”
Reverend Young began her career working for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company before pursuing her theological education at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. She currently serves as the Assistant Minister for Youth at The Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem as well as the Executive Director of The Abyssinian Fund, Inc., which works to reduce poverty in Ethiopia by partnering with coffee-farming communities. For Reverend Young, the transition from engineer to reverend wasn’t as significant a deviation as she had expected.
“Some think faith and science stand in direct opposition to each other,” she says. “There’s a direct connection. Science tells us the ‘how’ and faith tells us the ‘why.’ Separately, we don’t get the complete story. My technical background always inspires me to ask: ‘How can I take what is before me and make it better – for myself and those around me?’ That same question holds true in ministry. I have found the two worlds to be complimentary. My unique outlook, along with my vocational experiences, allows me to see things from a very different perspective. It’s very, very rewarding.”
Reverend Young’s unique professional background has also led her to work directly on questions related to the role of science and religion. Reverend Young spoke at the United Nation’s 21st Conference of Parties on Climate Change (also known as COP21) in Paris. As a cohort member of Religions for Peace USA, she addressed the intersectionality of faith, science, and advocacy, and focused on the impact climate has on women and children.
“Too often in our various communities, we don’t see our moral obligation to be good stewards of the Earth,” she says. “When we focus on environment, we find environmental injustice and environmental racism. What is our role in finding justice on behalf of or for members of minority communities? When we look deeply into communities impacted by sweeping climate change, whether it be from global warming or the intentional building of environmentally destructive infrastructures, it’s the women and children of communities who often experience the most severe ramifications.”
Reverend Young’s focus on children also emerges continuously as she describes her past and current work. Although she uses “under-resourced” instead of “marginalized” to describe the community in which she grew up, she openly discusses the harm that comes from leaving young voices out.
“You see how youth, inclusive of their voice and experiences, are absent. I have always made it a point to make certain youth have a space to offer their insights and experiences. What we don’t realize is that our young people are amazing in their ability to articulate their lived experiences, critically analyze what is happening around the world, and offer up solutions,” she says. “Young people are the engine and catalyst of change.”
Reverend Young’s emphasis on the importance and interconnectedness of environmental and social justice directly connects with PMC’s mission and vision. Born and raised in Texas by her Nigerian father and African-American mother, Reverend Young explains that she knows the challenges of different perspectives, but that it’s essential.
“It’s about creating community. No matter where you come from, we all inherently belong. It’s our task to carve out our space of belonging rather than have someone else carve it out for us.”
ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):
Population Media Center is a nonprofit leader in entertainment-education, dedicated to women’s rights and empowerment, population stabilization, and the environment. For the past two decades, PMC’s entertainment programming has promoted social and cultural change and has helped 500 million people in more than 50 countries. www.populationmedia.org