I Wish I Was Generation Z

I’m a millennial.  I was born in late 1997, and once the label was announced--even before that, with “only 90s kids remember”--I took pride in using it.  I am a millennial.  I am the future.

 

But something has changed.  Starting two years ago with my freshman year of college, a political mindset seemed to sweep my entire generation and cause us all to call for change.  The new presidential election was coming up, and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders was in the running under the Democratic Party. He called for everything college kids and young adults seemed to want: free public college tuition, higher/livable minimum wage, healthcare reform, you name it.  We realized that we were the biggest voting age group in the country, even bigger than the baby boomer generation. That power can change the country, if used in solidarity.  We called for action. We wanted to bring Bernie to the White House and make reforms after eight years of Obama and having a blue White House and Senate.  My campus also had huge political action with a protest on a failing Black Studies department. Administration was quietly firing professors and letting the department dwindle down, but students weren't having it.  They caused such an uproar, with storming the administration building up and down that the President of our university himself came out. Discussion happened, voices were heard, and the department is safe now and with more professors.  Students made things happen. Let me say that again: students made things happen.

 

But then shit happened. Millennials (at least on my campus) slowly dwindled down from the peak of political action, and Trump got into power.  The protests I’ve been a part of weren't organized by students on campus per se, but were organized by groups wanting to cause revolts and change the way things are done from the bottom up.  Other than the political group I worked with and go to ,the International Socialist Organization, or ISO, I haven’t seen ANY news of protests or political action for anything. Everyone’s pissed at the way the system is working, and knows that capitalism is inherently flawed as a system, but no one wants to do anything about that will actually do something. Sorry, but sharing articles online doesn't count as activism.

 

Then Gen Z stepped up. On Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida an armed white man come in and kill seventeen unarmed people, including students and faculty.  Student survivors of the shooting--individuals of generation Z--shouted back that gun reform needs to occur and that this is the time to act. Students on live television and on social media ,like Twitter, have called out President Trump and other high-up figures to take the time to put laws into effect to stop civilians from owning military-grade weapons, and avoid another school shooting like this.  People are speaking up and fighting for just laws and protection of all people.  My generation hasn’t done that, or at least not in a national way like this. These are the people that are keeping the conversation of gun control laws in our daily lives a week after the shooting.

 

If they just kept their mouths shut and complained about the system, would we see news reports about the aftereffects and whether all American citizens want reform?  No.  We wouldn't.  We’d move on, saying “thoughts and prayers” and forget about these people that aren't us.  While we may be fortunate enough to have the privilege to not have experienced this awful event, these high schoolers can’t.  They lived through it. They know that thousands of people Tweeting and posting and sharing “thoughts and prayers” won’t be enough to end their suffering and seeing their friends and teachers die around them trying to protect them from a white man with an AK-15 rifle.

 

I want to rise up and join my comrades and peers in fighting for my rights and my protection against violence.  I know the system won’t help me, because the current system allows men like Nikolas Cruz, to buy a heavy artillery rifle and kill seventeen people, and many more.  I also know that if enough people join together and organize for the same causes, we can change the system and build it from the ground up, so gun control reforms become laws that can’t be revoked or changed in four years’ time.  I want to be like my Florida comrades that know enough is enough and we can’t let another shooting occur. I want to be like my comrades that participated in the #MeToo movement that showed that sexual assault and sexual harassment occurs a lot more frequently and a lot more widely than anyone expects.  I want to be like my Black Studies comrades that stormed my school’s administration building to keep an integral part of American history--black history--in the education system and not let it be erased.

I want to be like Generation Z because they know it’s time to fight.  It is. So join me, fellow millennials, gen Z-ers, or whatever age you are; let’s organize and do something about this corrupt system.  I’m done being complacent and sitting around.