Only halfway into 2020, this year continuously proves to be a significant time in history across the globe. Covid-19 and its effects on the economy, plus the Black Lives Matter movement (and the reactionary All/Blue Lives Matter movement) created social unrest that has affected everyone’s lives. Especially for generation z, the events that have occurred thus far in 2020 will forever shape this youth, who will impact future government. The adult world of politics that teenagers are supposedly unknowledgeable about, is directly affecting them, and they are now becoming involved through their own forms of advocacy. Gen-z’s influence online is extremely powerful, and they are increasingly vocal as they are the next voters in elections. Quarantine has not delayed the growth of activism among teenagers, as social media was already their main platform to spread awareness. In fact, social media exponentially increases coverage on news, propaganda, and everything in between.
At Crescenta Valley High School, a reasonable approach to debate ideas was made through a zoom call facilitated by highschoolers for highschoolers. This discussion allowed teens to voice their opinions in a respectful manner on the ongoing events in the world today. These topics were, but not limited to, views on the Black Lives Matter movement, acab, antifa, healthcare, and environmental issues. From both sides of the political spectrum, speakers were able to debate or just simply talk about what they thought of the subjects at hand. A positive aspect of the app is the ability to screen share. Debaters utilized this tool to provide statistics as they argued their point. Since statistics without context is meaningless, both sides were able to come to some sort of a conclusion on what the data really signified. The purpose of the zoom call was not to degrade others from behind a screen, but to talk with other teens amongst the chaos in the world at the moment. Instead of blindly following parents, friends, and social media’s widespread beliefs, this showed the importance to do one’s own research. With the goal in mind to educate but not enforce ideals on others, the zoom call successfully ran for nearly three consecutive hours.
The most hands on approach to activism that teens are able to participate in are protests, both locally and in large cities. By posting on snapchat or instagram stories, larger amounts of teens are able to learn about protests and safe guidelines. Firsthand experiences are documented online as well for those who were unable to go themselves. At the protest in Montrose, California, many of the participants included teens. The peaceful protest consisted of walking on the streets and kneeling while all the names of Black people recently known to be killed by police brutality in the U.S. were listed. Throughout the protest, participants repeated the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as chants such as “No justice no peace, no racist police.” Towards the end of the protest, protesters urged police officers blocking the street to join in kneeling, as some had been doing in other protests; however, this was met negatively, as cops on motorcycles and cars inched closer, revving engines as a threat to run innocent people over.
These moments in 2020 are defining Gen-Z and their beliefs going into the adult arena of politics. With open communities online met with pressure from social media, teens have been forced to be politically aware and active; not just in this one moment in the peak of black lives matter coverage, but continuously in their everyday lives.
Hannah Sung, Grade 10
Crescenta Valley High School