A mere 83 days before the November election, and the ground below us has shifted. Even with an ongoing pandemic, young people across the nation have risen to the occasion.
More than half of the marches for the Black Lives Matter movement was organized by young advocates. Various students have taken this opportunity to start creative initiatives, such as sewing masks for the needy, volunteering for social justice causes, starting community organizations, and so much more.
Of course, youth voices have always existed, but the pandemic has served as a catalyst that amplified it.
Through my school community, I could sense the apparent change in ethos. Although there were always peers who spoke passionately about social justice issues, the months of quarantine at home worked to amplify that energy.
Since the beginning of quarantine in March until now, early August, stories range from local issues to international affairs: supporting the #BLM protests, speaking against Anti-Asian xenophobia, elections, advocating #PayUp for Bangladeshi workers, etc.
At its start, I thought many people were simply “jumping on the hype” with their social media activism. After all, some of those individuals who avidly spoke for the Black Lives Matter movement were the same people who stayed silent during the waves of xenophobic attacks towards Asian-Americans. But I don’t think that was the case.
Rather, I think the overwhelming support and voices for the #BLM Movement proved the importance of our collective effort. Peers who were once hesitant of speaking out found reason and motivation to do so.
“My voice matters. There’s so many young leaders out there, why can’t I be one of them?” said an anonymous high school activist.
She had believed that social media was a only a platform for attention seekers and unhealthy content. But now, she also realized the importance of social media campaigning.
“It’s the single best way to reach students. There’s good and bad content out there, it depends on how you utilize it.” This student has worked with her group of peers to demand for greater change through petitions and community service. It was social media campaigning that gave her the opportunity to expand her outreach and connect with a vast group of like-minded activists.
Social media aside, I think the greatest change that has occurred since quarantine is a mental shift. The belief that we, as young members of society, have the ability to advocate for better policies and a fairer system.
Millennials and Generation Z will constitute 37% of the voting population for the next election, making this election an important one to echo our opinions. Compared to previous generations, this young electorate is more diverse ethnically, racially and in many other respects.
We are not afraid to explore that diversity!
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