There is a reason why everyone is so captivated by the student voices that are resonating and gaining attention across the US right now. It is fuelled by the desire to change a culture that seems stuck in the past and correcting the fatal misconception that young voices do not have worth.
Students hit a tipping point after the most recent Florida mass shooting. They did not accept the old line of “now is not the time to discuss gun control.” They were done with ageing white men condescending to them about what should be talked about. If none of the adults were going to step up and have some common-sense discussions, then they would.
America’s youth has been belittled, berated and overlooked by the baby boomer generation, particularly for their obsession with tech and social media. They’ve also been scrutinised for not being politically active. But over the past year, Gen Z-ers have shown that they are the future of this country. They’re taking charge, and they’re using social media to do it. What was once considered a vice is now the leading method of organising this coalition.
We, as witnesses, watched this unfold in quiet awe as we saw a shift take place around us. No longer would the conversation be a closed one amongst an increasingly obsolete and exclusionist few. Instead of waiting for an invitation to join that conversation, this generation began their own. That, I am excited to say, is our future. The ageing straight white male politician becomes our history and a tool for learning. Suddenly, tomorrow looks a lot brighter.
I hope I have the confidence and humility to listen as I grow older and to yield my voice to that of my son and his generation, as well as the generations that follow. Isn’t that what progress and evolution are supposed to look like?
– Ned Brown