My first days in America held a unique experience. I attended an “urban” middle school in St. Paul, Minnesota. On the second day, school police announced during lunch that there would be a lockdown drill. At 1:45 p.m., our teacher locked the door and everyone knew the routine. I followed the rest of the students under our desks and I sat struggling to keep my legs crossed in my khaki uniform pants. I remember being so excited because this was what I had dreamed of—me sitting in an American school reenacting a James Bond movie. After realizing what a lockdown drill was intended for, my elation shriveled into fear. I asked my father when I got home, “It will never happen, right?” He responded, “Just do what they tell you.” To my immigrant father, that was the safest thing to do in a foreign land, and he was right because we had different stakes. For a long time, I did not understand the implications and benefits of conforming; I just did what they told me.
As I draw further away from my parents’ ideologies, there is a craving to correct their mistakes. My generation acts differently; we are inspired by the older eras’ shortcomings to push back against structures that silence and repress all peoples. Although we may be obsessed with blush pink and memes, we recognize that silence is complicit. Our digital world has created a culture of acknowledgement and accountability to create a global community across identities and groups. These digital platforms have made activism and protests more salient within our society including the most recent nationwide protest: March for Our Lives. The efforts of the protest’s organizers were amplified through social media. Videos and photos of young children marching in protest against gun policies in light of recent school shootings circulated the web and news platforms, following the patterns of movements such as Black Lives Matter. Young black children are also fighting gun and police violence using the same social media platforms. However, it is important to recognize the voices that get elevated and supported nationwide, even within the context of protesting for the same values and rights.
Elementary school children rally across the nation learning from our mistakes and taking a page from our books. From a young age, they have learned to fight—to fight for their safety, their right to live, their right to not be traumatized because a lockdown drill is not safe enough. They have learned that age is not a prerequisite to fight for institutional change. Children are standing on the forefront of protests bearing a responsibility to correct our flawed society far too early in their lives. While the blush pink generation reminisces about our childhood filled with ’90s cartoons and T.V. shows, children born into this generation create their memories while fighting inequality. I can’t deny how badass these children are, but I want them live their childhood a little longer. Most of us have had the privilege to enjoy the wholesomeness of childhood and the time to navigate our identities.
In a conversation I had with Shannon Knight ’18, she adopted a tweet by singer Mikel Jollett: “When your leaders act like children and your children act like leaders, you know that change is coming.” This quote perfectly captures the current social climate we live in. Oppression and power is written into narratives of societies. However, if we are lucky, our leaders work to combat the systems that reinforce power imbalance. Millennials have a crucial role in social culture—we have created a streamline of information and global community. Our actions and presence shape the tempo in our shifting global sphere. Therefore, as a collective, we are leaders. We need to be filled with urgency to amplify our voices so the new millennials can live their childhood. As we inspire the growing generation, our blush pink generation needs to take a page from their books.