Generation Z is coming of political age as they join with thousands in protesting the police killing of George Floyd, and much of it is playing out online.
Generations that came before Gen Z went through similar awakenings.
However, Gen Z is likely to continue engaging even after the protests
end because of the power of smartphones and social media, per Axios’
- Those same platforms also allow this generation
to support a movement without setting foot on the streets, by demanding
companies "open your purse" in support of Black Lives Matter, retweeting others and more.
- Video footage of police action is holding law enforcement accountable.
The big picture
first Gen Zers, born in 1997, have cast aside their parents’ means of
communication — newspaper, television and radio — for the internet, and
they’ve been online from an early age. They're abandoning traditional
media altogether in favor of the web and consuming their news largely
via social media, CNBC reports.
Gen Zers are flooding the streets with phones in hand to protest racial
inequality and upload what they see onto social media, specifically
- TikTok started largely as a platform for sharing
viral dances, but has quickly evolved into a space for political
discourse for America’s youth as young people use the tool to share
stories, according to Reuters.
Nearly 60% of TikTok users fall into Gen Z. Many are posting raw clips of what they see and experience both out in the world and at home.
have posted encounters with law enforcement while protesting — often
before traditional media can get stories published or on-air.
of Gen Z’s cultural leaders — such as 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio, who
has 60 million followers on TikTok — are using their platforms to talk
about the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Zers are providing their own analysis of police brutality against black
Americans and sharing raw emotions over Floyd’s death.
are challenging older family members about police brutality and
publishing the conversations — highlighting a generational rift, Business Insider notes.
Young Americans have long challenged the status quo and have driven change — often meeting law enforcement in the streets.
- The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
(SNCC) was founded in 1960 to support the civil rights movement
peacefully. It played a substantial role in organizing lunch counter
sit-ins and Freedom Rides, and was part of famous marches that include
Selma-to-Montgomery, Alabama and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on
- In the late 1960s, many college students protested the ongoing Vietnam War by organizing sit-ins and marches.
- Leaders had to rely on word of mouth, pamphlets, posters and songs to get people to support their causes long before the internet existed.
The bottom line:
is a stubborn resistance to treating young people's political activism
as normal, but the truth is that it's neither extraordinary nor
exceptional," Jessica Taft, an associate professor at the University of
California at Santa Cruz, told the University of California. "Children and youth are not on the sidelines. They are protagonists in the fight for their rights and their well being."