My Generation Will Not Let This World End Without a Fight

Youth activism has been on the rise across the globe for decades. Now, we are starting to see the true impact this rising generation has.

Whether it was the steep rise in dystopian novels like The Hunger Games and Divergent my generation grew up reading, or the 24-hour news cycle constantly filling us with anxieties about atrocities occurring every second of every day - my generation has a warped perspective on the world. 

My friends and I often talk about the earth as if the end date is upon us. When a single day’s headlines consist of raging wildfires in California, growing numbers of dying refugees on the shores of Spain, and the effects of an ongoing pandemic has had on every country in the world - it’s hard not to feel resigned to an ending that global warming by itself guarantees is coming. 

That all sounds super dark, and it very much is, but this is also the way it’s always been for us. 

For as long as I can remember adults have apologized for the world they were leaving me to inherit. My grandma would shake her head at the news channel, and I never understood why she watched so much if it made her so mad. She’d cuss under her breath about the idiot politicians who were gonna run this country into the ground and I’d pretend to know what she was talking about. She would then turn to me and say, as would many adults later throughout my life, that my generation was seemingly the last hope. 

Despite the weight of growing up in this world at this time, with a sense of hopelessness that feels ingrained, my generation has not stopped fighting.

While we are more than aware of the difference in power between us and the big businesses, billionaires, and influenced systems of government - we remain at the forefront of the world’s movements for social change. This rise in youth activism across the globe is something that has historical precedent and can be traced over several decades., This is a fact that leading scholar of youth activism, Jessica Taft has closely studied. 

"I've seen 12-year-olds facilitate meetings better than 35-year-olds," Taft said in an interview. "We need to decouple experience and age. Sometimes the youngest kids get listened to the most."

She also speaks on how, within the United States in particular, the youth have been led to believe that their political influence is minimal - despite the fact that it was high school students who led much of the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Taft calls this erasure of influence “social amnesia”, a tactic that has wiped away children’s notions of autonomy in this country for the past few decades - leading up to my generation, who are only now learning how powerful we can actually be. 

While these ideas of the intergenerational influence young people have in the world of activism can easily become abstract, ignoring or dismissing youth influence can have very real implications. Throughout all of human history, young people have stepped in and out of political spheres. In the U.S., older generations have held a tight grip on the decisions made in this country for a long time, but there is a rapidly approaching shift in power. 

And I absolutely have faith in my generation's ability to bring about the changes adults have been telling us we were responsible for.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kendi is currently a student at New York University and is the author of multiple award-winning poems, short stories, stage, and screenplays.

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