Right now, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the upheaval and chaos of our cultural climate. It’s nearly impossible to shutter ourselves from the nationwide outcry for justice. It’s nearly impossible to continue on in ignorance. The privileged have come forward to admit their biases and expose themselves as having unknowingly perpetuated a racial divide in order to speak in the name of justice for those who have suffered at the hands of the advantaged. It is everyone’s responsibility to fight, and millennials appear to be standing on the frontlines.
This is not surprising. Generation Y has effectively been training for this from their earliest years. Many of my fundamental educational memories were founded in principles of equality and tolerance. Diversity was prized and celebrated in many schools as education shifted to an inclusivity model; students receiving special education joined the mainstream and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 sought to eliminate barriers within education. Textbook word problems that formerly asked about Billy, Jane, and Sally transitioned to feature kids with foreign, exotic names and skin that was not exclusively white. And beyond education, our movies, television shows, and music featured racial and ethnic diversity. Millennials have been conditioned beyond simple acceptance of racial equality — we demand it. It is deeply ingrained within us.
When I see the protests, I mostly see America’s youth. Millennials and Gen. Z have made pilgrimage to their cities in droves, many peacefully armored with signs etched with their beliefs. They have an earnest fervor to defend what they know to be right, and they are exercising their voices by physically protesting and using social media as a resource to disseminate information. The use of hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackoutTuesday show outward support of this movement for change. Regardless of the method, they’ve employed, millennials are uniformly standing as one and passionately protecting the rights of all Americans.
As such, millennials are keeping a watchful eye as they promote #SilenceIsCompliance. They’re looking to see who is pleading with them for active anti-racism and who remains silent, especially amongst their friends, families, employers, and retailers. Partially, millennials seek a conversation that has taken far too long to begin, but they also want outward messaging and a concrete action plan to share knowledge, give empathy, and promote values. A brief message on a website, an email, or even a simple social media post acknowledging the movement helps millennials feel like they can trust the brands they love and depend on them to promote equality. Internally, though, this is a time to reflect with colleagues and employees, educate ourselves to correct inequitable practice, and encourage solidarity. Looking forward, millennials will be holding all accountable.
– The Soph in Sophelle, 6/5/2020