Gen Z drives modern activism


Ava Lafin

The rumor of Roe v Wade overturning has sparked activism among Gen Z.

Ava Lafin, Opinions Editor

When injustice is recognized in this society, it doesn’t take long for hundreds of support pages, news articles, social media chains and fundraisers to rise. Generation Z, people born from 1997-2012, has changed the way news is spread and fights back through the power of social media. In a rising political climate, this generation has become more involved in activism and protests.

Social studies teacher Greg Maloney recognizes this impact.

“I think that Gen Z has a particular importance when it comes to social activism. First they’ve lived their whole life with social media. Not only are they more comfortable with it; I think that’s how they communicate. They would be more likely to use social media to communicate their concerns and frustration towards social issues,” Maloney said.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which heard its biggest out cry in summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, was one of the biggest protests in history nationwide acording to the New York Times. Many people took to the streets as well as spreading the word on social media like Instagram, an app predominantly targeted to young people like Gen Z.

Blackout Tuesday was a movement where people shared a black screen on their profile in support of BLM. Many individuals of Gen Z participated in the media protest. The ease that Gen Z has on social media helps provide platforms for these movements to be shared and spread.

The impact of millions resonated with Junior Haley Fredricks.

“It was really cool to see so many people united for one cause. It was also incredibly inspiring to see people my age stand up for what they believe in because before then I had never seen young people do that,” Fredricks said.

These activists use the resources available like social media to raise awareness and spread the word to people like them, those in Gen Z, who also receive their news primarily through social media.

The social media operated by Gen Z provides news to be shared easier, as highlighted by Junior Skyler Tomecki.

“The new generation of students in our community have really taken advantage of social media in order to spread awareness about important information. Posting about recent news events on Instagram creates a smarter student body surrounding current events and provides another source of learning besides the classroom,” Tomecki said.

Many famous activists are a part of Gen Z like Greta Thunberg, a 19 year old girl from Sweden who is known for her work around climate change. She is one of the most predominant activists of Gen Z and her work has been awarded around the world. Others around her age share the same ideas about the climate.

Thunberg is known for taking charge of the situation with climate change and talking about controversial topics to make world leaders listen.

“The denial of the climate and ecological crisis runs so deep that hardly anyone takes real notice anymore,” Thunberg said.

Thunberg is seen as a leader for Gen Z and continues to spread awareness about climate change and demand change from world leaders. Gen Z is the future as they are the next to grow up and take on the jobs of world leaders. Thunberg is speaking out for a safe environment for that future.

“These issues are going to affect them more because they have more of their life to live, and so they have more at stake. They have critical importance to be active in protesting,” Maloney said.

Oftentimes, protests around the world demanding solutions for climate change will have young activists like Thunberg. In Sydney Australia, children left school to march in climate change protests, and in Berlin, protesters held up signs that said, “Make the World Greta Again,” a spin on previous political slogans.

In 2019 Thunberg spoke at one of these protests in New York City.

“We demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?” Thunberg said.

Malala Yousafzai is another Gen Z activist most well known for her work in spreading awareness about violence in Pakistan and gender equality in the education system. She won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17 with Kailash Satyarthi “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Samhita Mukhopadhyay from Teen Vogue explained how activists like Thunberg and Yousafzai are inspirational to Gen Z.

“These are not your grandparents’ organizers — they are intersectional; they are aware of class and race dynamics and binary gender systems’ they are inclusive and “woke AF.” They also grew up with Twitter accounts, armed with the tools to build broad-based support like no other generation before them,” Mukhopadhyay said.

Activism in Gen Z is recognized by students like Senior Abby Knight.

“Gen Z kids are not afraid to speak their truth no matter what. That’s when people start to listen-it’s not about how loud we are, it’s about the worlds we use and the message we spread,” Knight said.