By: Dani Kessel
For some reason, I’ve noticed a trend of Millennials and Generation Z being pitted against each other. I don’t subscribe to this notion. I am proud to be a Millennial; still, I can see the value in Generation Z. Their tenacity, their innovativeness, and their dedication to civic duty impress me. Millennials may have started woke culture, but Gen Z lives and breathes woke culture. They really embrace their role in social development. I honestly believe Gen Zers will change the world.
Don’t believe me? Read on to see the impact they’ve already made!
From what I’ve seen, Gen Zers care about having their voices heard.
Many teens on TikTok who would not be old enough to vote in the 2020 elections were determined to still make their voices heard. They developed a plan to reserve the tickets for Trump’s Tulsa rally and then not show up, leaving the venue mostly empty. In conjunction with the K-Pop community, Gen Zers also took over white supremacist hashtags to erase the hateful messages. School-age students also arranged the #MarchForOurLives which swept the entire United States following the Parkland gun violence tragedy. I can’t count the number of protests, walk-outs, sit-ins, and campaigns created by Generation Z leaders to further human rights, social justice, and the betterment of their communities.
There are numerous individuals who stand as an example of what Gen Z’s capable of.
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Laureate, was so determined to advocate for girls’ educational rights that she spoke up against the Pakistani Taliban as a pre-teen. This resulted in an assassination attempt. She wouldn’t let that stop her though. After about 6 months of surgeries, treatment, and physical therapy, Malala went back to school. In addition to pursuing her education, she continued her activist work. She spoke in front of the United Nations, wrote an autobiography, and co-founded the Malala Fund. She continues to push for the educational rights of young girls.
We also see amazing, well-known LGBTQ+ Gen Zers who stepped up to improve the world. Folx like Jazz Jennings, Eva Maria Lewis, Ezra Greyson Wheeler, and Amandla Stenberg. All have stood up as intersectional Gen Z activists. Collectively, they fight for the disabled community, Black community, and LGBTQ+ community. They all have been making huge waves. Jazz Jennings wrote the book I Am Jazz, constantly used a tool to teach young kids about transgender kids. Eva Maria Lewis created The I Project, an activism and art effort to advocate for equity and intersectionality, and she co-founded Youths for Black Lives. Ezra Greyson Wheeler used their experience as a nonbinary, disabled artist to create the We Exist Collective which fights for a more inclusive and disability-accessible space in the LGBTQ+ community. Just like all the others already listed, nonbinary actor Amandla Stenberg constantly uses their platform to promote societal growth; they battle against cultural appropriation and racial inequality while promoting the Art Hoe Collective and the #TimesUp movement. Those are simply examples since there are countless names I could list.
In light of the climate change crisis, trailblazing Gen Zers have taken on different mediums to encourage change. In early 2016, Mari Copeny (a.k.a. Little Miss Flint) wrote a letter to then-President Barack Obama pleading for assistance with the Flint water crisis. Since then, she’s continued to help run online fundraisers for water filters, water bottles, and water cleanup in Flint. A climate protector from the Han Gwich’in Nation and the Lakota Sioux Nation, Quannah Chasinghorse is also attempting to defend and preserve her homeland. She spoke in front of the Alaskan Federation of Natives 2019 Convention in an attempt to declare a state of emergency and preserve the sacred land in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. Daphnias Frias, County Committee Representative of Election District 80 in West Harlem, created an incentive program for people who reuse water bottles on her campus. She also joined the Zero Hour and participates in the Youth Climate Summit. As someone with cerebral palsy whose lungs have weakened, she’s especially susceptible to air pollution; so, she fights against environmental racism in her community. Then, there is Greta Thunberg from Sweden and Howey Ou from China. Both teen activists have vowed to protest every Friday, forgoing school, until their countries align with the 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement. (Ou has since been entirely barred from her school until she gives up her activism. She’s vowed not to stop until her goal is reached.) Taking a less in-person tactic than some, Gen Z filmmaker Dylan D’Haeze has created 4 documentary films–Plastic Is Forever, Tipping Point, Everything Connects, and Political Climate: Vote For Your Future–in his attempt to inspire kids to save the planet. Every one of these activists has fought in their own way to improve the climate crisis.
But Gen Z activists aren’t just big-name and well-known. Even lesser-known folx from Generation Z are raising their voices.
Betsy Watson, now a 20-year-old who creates educational content for social media, founded the People for Equality, Acceptance, Cooperation, and Empathy club when she attended Central Bucks West High School. In Eastern Ghouta, Muhammad Najem posts photos on Instagram and Twitter to show the effects of the Syrian war on his community. Meanwhile, Miliyollie, a local St. Petersburg photographer, uses her art to promote body positivity and disability acceptance. Makayla Garcia, a friend I met through one of the marches I attended, worked hard to arrange the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in and nearby Parker, Colorado. Showing solidarity with her teachers, Gillian Sullivan from Clark County, Nevada arranged a student strike for the teachers’ unfair conditions and pay through TikTok. The Interact Club at Smithtown High School East put on a food drive to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in their local community.
All things considered, I think Generation Z will change the world. To others, Gen Z’s activism may look different, but it’s working. They’re reaching one another. They are making their voices heard. They shouldn’t have suffered the burden of fixing our world (as Billy Joel said, “[They] didn’t start the fire.”), but they’ve stepped up with grace and strength. I admire them and have full confidence in their abilities.
Thanks for reading this article. If you enjoyed it, please like and share. Do you know of any Generation Zers who are making strides in their communities? Tell us about them in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe to Girl On The Go before you leave!