In the past couple of days, I have heard stories in the news that have inspired my faith in the younger generation. Too often, older people criticize Millennials for what they perceive is a lack of social consciousness.
Whether they are speaking out through social media, using cell phone videos to record injustice or using old-fashioned shoe leather to march on school campuses, young people are showing a tremendous amount of courage and commitment, using their intelligence and First Amendment rights as their weapons of choice.
It is troubling to hear young people spew rap lyrics that denigrate women and people of color (especially coming from other women and minorities), or witness so much black-on-black crime. So when I see righteous anger being transformed into positive social activism, I just have comment.
The three stories that stuck out for me this week are the resignations of the University of Missouri president and chancellor, a protest by youth groups against environmental racism, and an Inglewood student who used the press to draw attention to unsanitary conditions at her school.
On Monday, University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe resigned under pressure by black students. The football team refused to play because the administration failed to address repeated allegations of overt racism on campus, including a swastika written in feces. Black graduate student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike, demanding that Wolfe be removed from his position. A day after Wolfe’s resignation, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin also stepped down.
This week, two youth advocacy groups, Youth for Environmental Justice and South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, made their voices heard by suing the City of Los Angeles for allowing oil companies to drill hundreds of contaminating wells near homes without conducting mandatory environmental studies. Joshua Navarro, a 16 year-old advocate and resident of South L.A., said youth represent the future, but “we can’t sit around and wait for the future to come when oil drilling is hurting us now."
Jaslyn Fellows, a student at City Honors College Preparatory Academy in Inglewood, forced the principal at her school to address unsanitary bathroom conditions. According to Fellows, there has not been hand soap available on a consistent basis during the two years she has attended. Using her First Amendment rights, she spoke up and wrote an impressive opinion piece in the Compton Herald, which got the attention of Principal Kiwiana Cain.
These are clear examples of young people taking responsibility to make their communities better. They deserve our support. I am honored to run all of these stories in this edition of Inglewood Today, and I encourage you to read them. See what the Millennials are up to, and let their stories be a reminder that we all need to keep stepping up.