“People do not choose rebellion, it is forced upon them. Revolution is always an act of self-defense.”- Reverend C.T. Vivian“I want to see young people in America feel the spirit of the 1960s and find a way to get in the way. To find a way to get in trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble.”- Congressman John Lewis
It’s been almost two months since my last post. I never intend to take breaks, but it feels like every time I’m motivated and inspired to write consistently, a new societal shift occurs that knocks me off my feet and leaves me floundering for a bit until I start to feel more like myself again. Just two days before my last post, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And then news broke of the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Then Breonna Taylor. Then Tony McDade. Then Rayshard Brooks. Then [insert another name here]. In the midst of a global pandemic and navigating a move, I was grappling with yet another collective trauma: racism. It was too much to bear. News of these murders spread like wildfire, sparking international outrage, inspiring protests against police brutality, and once again shining a spotlight on the continued brutal treatment of Black and Brown folx. We’ve seen this happen before–an unarmed Black person is murdered, people take to the streets, and then we wait and wait and wait for change to come. It happened with Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and countless others, but real change never really came…real justice was never really served. And I think the first few days after Floyd, Arbery, Taylor, and McDade’s murders made headline news, I felt just as despondent as I did years ago, but then an unexpected shift occurred: people woke up, people believed, people created real change. The energy of this current uprising feels different, and I think it is due in large part to those who are organizing the moment, leading protests, seeking justice, and creating change: Generation Z.
From Minneapolis to New Zealand, more than 600 Black Lives Matter protests have occurred in 53 days, and there’s no sign that they will be slowing down anytime soon. On a national and international stage, these protests are starting to change the world: some police budgets have been reduced, guidelines on police reform have been introduced, police officers have been fired and arrested, statues that honor slaveowners have been removed, and people are starting to really look within and do the hard work to be actively anti-racist. There is so much more work, systemic work, to do, but for the first time, real and sustainable change feels feasible, and it’s all because of the relentless effort of teenagers and young adults, just like you!
In the face of so much uncertainty, turmoil, and unrest, we oftentimes look for others to step in to help propel a movement forward and lead us all to positive social change. I’m sure people asked themselves “who will lead us now?” when Dr. King and Malcolm X were assassinated. Who will pick up their torches and continue the fight for justice? Historically speaking, the answer has most oftentimes been the youth. The youth will lead us, and two young people, in particular, became incredibly pivotal icons and real-life superheroes who worked tirelessly for justice and civil rights until their dying day. These two giants, Reverend C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis, passed away on Friday, and with their passing came that old question once again: “who will lead us now?” Looking at Generation Z, the answer is clear: they are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Generation Z is a force to be reckoned with. Societies typically hope the next generation will be better than the last, and even in the face of today’s challenges, I have no doubt in mind that they will be. I know there are moments when we feel overwhelmed by everything–hence my writing breaks–but let us be encouraged and inspired by the words of two great leaders, and continue the fight for freedom, justice, and equality for ALL!
I am thankful for the foundation Reverend C.T. Vivian, Congressman John Lewis, and so many other Civil Rights activists laid, for their commitment to justice, and for their belief in a better world. Now, I encourage you all to feel emboldened and pick up where they left off. I hope their words will continue to inspire and motivate us all–especially Gen Z– to keep making noise and getting into good trouble because the world needs us to turn the possibility of a better world into a reality.