Who are you fighting for? Some of us would answer, “For me,” “For peace,” “For freedom,” “For anything!”
It seems this generation is pumped up with the passion of a revolutionary, but is lost and directionless about how to focus those energies. Generation Y seems to get behind anything and everything, and, when “they” call our names; we are there. All it takes is a flyer and the word “injustice,” and we are there with our signs, coordinated T-shirts, bullhorns and couple of friends who probably don’t know what’s going on.
For example, police brutality rallies are predominantly led and pushed by teens and young adults each year. There’s lots of yelling, information shared, and terrible stories remembered. “F**k the police” we shout. Right.
Or let’s look at the Jena Six rally back in 2007. Among the 6,000 plus protesters were high school and college students and a lot of young parents. The atmosphere was temporarily charged with an electric passion for racial and judicial justice. Poetry was read, chants were yelled, speeches were made and prayers prayed. After that rally, the town went back to normal. Mychael Bell was still locked up and some of us had new T-shirts to sport.
But where is the change? Who is changed? Who cares? And after the rally, where does all the passion go?
The point is, we have the passion to drive a revolution, but it seems we don’t know which cause to take up or revolution to fuel. We don’t know how to effectively influence real change.
The last great rallies, protests, sit-ins and fasts took place in the ’60s, when young people changed laws, transformed society and brought a little more peace to the nation. Youth organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or the then, heavily youth-led association NAACP paved the way for us.
It seems that the Y Generation only knows the memories of protest, according to history books. We try to emulate the past, not quite understanding how our forefathers and mothers did what they did or even why they did what they did.
Alice Huffman, California regional president of the NAACP says the problem is deception.
“The enemy is not monolithic like it used to be,” Huffman explained. “We used to be able to point to the government. That created a better focus for activism.”
She agrees this generation has the fire, but lacks a general focus. A veteran of the ’60’s Civil Rights movement, Huffman also believes the same war that existed 40 years ago is the same fight this generation has to deal with; the issues are just harder to identify.
While there are young rebels standing up against injustice all across the nation, the movement to revolutionize a stagnant African American community society is sort of crippled. Huffman believes young people today will eventually do something great, but a bridge between generations needs to be built.
“If we want to make a change, we have to start at the beginning and take a more holistic approach,” she commented. “Elders need to demonstrate to the young people how to be true activists for our people. We need to keep our eye on the prize, moving our people out of poverty (to reach a level of true equality).”
Today’s young have the energy and passion that could overturn hundreds of years of stagnation and oppression. But we need our elders to show us how, to work with us instead of pointing the finger at us. We need our remaining forefathers and foremothers to share their stories of struggle and freedom; otherwise, the dream our ancestors dreamed will remain dormant, and this generation’s energy will haphazardly be invested in a system designed for our community’s ultimate demise.