21st Century Wake-Up Text
I heard a ding and saw that my friend finally messaged me back.
“Sorry for the late response – I was busy canvassing all day. How r you?!”
I was born in 1997. It was a time when Tyra Banks shattered glass ceilings as the first black woman to have a solo Sports Illustrated cover, Steve Jobs returned to Apple to develop the “i-” industry and Princess Diana showed us that life is, unfortunately, finite. As I grew older, other landmark events would mark progressivism for decades to come. While I struggled through puberty, Former President Obama grappled with racist skeptics. When I had my first real crush, legislation passed to prove that love is love. The morning after feminist-themed college parties, I cast my vote for someone I expected would become the first female U.S. president. Doors were opening (literally, to Cuba) and then they were suddenly shut.
Despite the shock of the 2016 elections and the last two years of painful partisan bickering, the environment of my most formative years taught me tenacity, trust and the results of hard work. It is no surprise that students, always referred to as the hope for the future, have brought activism to the forefront of 2018. We are working towards a better tomorrow.
In 1968, large and historic student protests were largely focused on college campuses, signaling the power of people over institutions. The issues ranged from segregation to military spending in Vietnam to inadequate resources for students of color. Demonstrations on South Carolina State, Columbia University and New York University campuses became violent, involving arrests and the use of police force against administration and students.
Today, the landscape is alarmingly similar, but my generation has the past as a reference book. Students across public and private universities are rallying for protection of DACA, organizing hunger strikes for workers’ rights and standing in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements.
Today we are working beyond campus borders – on the ground and in our own communities – to challenge institutions as large as the U.S. government. The March For Our Lives high school students spent their summer touring the country, district by district, to urge neighbors, candidates and potential voters to vote against gun violence. Teen Vogue is spreading the gospel of intersectional feminism to young women learning to love their bodies. Moreover, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the wallpaper of dozens of little activists’ iPhones.
Sure, I am part of a generation that mourns the breakup of Fifth Harmony but we also volunteer to register voters in the summer heat. We saw how history was made in 1968 and are actively making our future after 2018. We are thinking of the generations ahead of our own. Yet, we are also thinking of ourselves because we’ll be here for a while. Cheers to the generation that will change the world.
Photo by Matt McClain/Washington Post