By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Photography Editor~
I hate the cringe-worthy term “millennials” just as much as the rest of us 20-somethings. I resent it not because it’s another dreaded and clichéd label but because it is more than a synonym for Generation Y. The word “millennial” carries a weight of disrespect and distaste for young adults that is completely uncalled for.
I have seen professors underestimate the voice of my generation, “the youths,” in classrooms, telling me that Black Lives Matter is a “racist” and “extremist” movement. I have been embarrassed in front of coworkers by managers who lack respect for their college-aged employees. I have been told that millennials are lazy and apathetic. But what I see from and what I know of my generation is nothing of the sort. What I continue to see from the majority of my generation is a lack of tolerance for injustice.
After the inauguration of Donald Trump, I participated in the Women’s March on Washington in Downtown Cincinnati. I saw thousands of women and men gathered in solidarity, babies being pushed in strollers by their tattooed fathers, elderly couples clutching each other as they marched through the streets of Over the Rhine, 3-year-old children collecting postcards to send to our senator, women wearing star-spangled hijabs and a man sporting red, white and blue on the spokes of his wheelchair.
The Women’s March was a celebration of diversity and inclusion and a complete condemnation of apathy during this political and social climate, and this is what I see from Generation Y.
This is the generation that demands equality. This is the generation that demands change. This is the generation that has been told that it is incapable of empathy but still preaches hope for a future that is meant for all of us.
This isn’t liberal versus conservative, Democrats versus Republicans. This is bigger than Washington, D.C., and this is bigger than politics. Generation Y has spent the better part of our education learning about the oppression that has plagued our country and our world. We know that internment camps traveled across seas to our own country during World War II. We know that banning Muslims from the United States echoes themes from Hitler’s regime. We know that “Black Lives Matter” does not discount the value of all other lives. We know that women demanding equality is not women claiming superiority. Generation Y saw the United States catch up to the rest of the first world when gay marriage was legalized in 2015.
Generation Y witnessed police brutality against Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and countless other Black lives. Generation Y was sitting in classrooms when Paris was hit with terrorist attacks in 2015. We have witnessed horrific and pivotal moments during some of our most formative years. We have seen hate, fear and ignorance consume our country. But we do not sit by idly.
I know that we are an imperfect generation with technology obsessions and entitlement issues. We are not all concerned with progression and social justice. We are not all liberal or concerned with solidarity. However, classifying millennials by some individuals’ apathy is, quite simply, irresponsible. As a whole, we are the generation that is changing the minds of our parents, pushing for inclusion and community and believing in the power of progress.
This is the generation that organizes walkout protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is the generation that has zero tolerance for racist imagery on our own college campus. This is the generation that celebrates and craves diversity. This generation gives a damn. This generation is not just talk. We show up.