BEING IN GEN Z is about being a part of the past, but also being part of the future. It’s almost as if we’re reincarnating what our ancestors fought for, but now it’s on a larger scale with technology. Social movements can start on Twitter.
We are the generation to advocate for things to change.”
Our politically progressive movements are helping to shape technology and how technological policies are made. TikTok just changed their policies to limit hate speech—antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, white supremacy. We are the generation to advocate for things to change and to find different ways within our specific demographics and specific platforms for how that change can manifest.
We were raised by people who told us, “Go to school, get your education, get a good job, bring that money home, get us out the ‘hood.” Education is often seen as the only way out, but career resources have to be community-oriented and community-based. Parents, teachers, and community leaders should be exposing students to different career paths, whether they require a degree or not. Skills and trades are still very much real and necessary. If we’ve learned anything in this pandemic, it’s that all of a sudden everybody was an essential worker, right? There shouldn’t be any putting down one career over another, because they’re all essential.
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The pandemic exposed a lot in this country. So many people suffered during the quarantine period. For a lot of students, your school is your saving grace. That is where you get your wi-fi. That is where you can wash your clothes. That is where you get your meals from, because you can’t get them from home. Our entire society shifted, and it exposed the problem areas: education, systemic inequities, medical inequities, and racial inequities, which is why a lot of people who are getting COVID look like me.
My advice to people who want to get engaged is start small. Find a tiny problem and find like-minded people to help you work on it. On my campus at Bennett, as a Muslim person attending a majority Methodist-affiliated school, I helped create the first multi-faith prayer meditation room for all faiths and all people to be with themselves, whoever you pray to, if you pray at all.
It doesn’t have to be a big rah-rah or a huge petition. It could be something very simple like helping students on campus get registered to vote or becoming a tutor. Helping people to read is revolutionary. Just find something that you’re passionate about and work on it. It’s okay to start small because everything is interconnected, everything is intersectional. Once you take on one thing, you’ll find other things connected with it, too.