by Kaylin Tran
I write to you as a fellow young adult, as someone who has been misjudged and insulted for her activism, as someone who has been told, “This isn’t your problem.”
Given the recent tragedies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black individuals, now is the time for you to use your voice. As the younger generation, you are our future. You will become the teachers, the doctors, the engineers, the entertainers, the writers and the artists of the world.
I know that life as a normal adolescent (as normal as it can be, given the circumstances) is already difficult enough. What many people fail to understand is that you are on a path of self-discovery and individualism. As you maneuver your way through middle school, high school and college, you face the social pressures of developing and accepting your own identity. Common characteristics that befall our generation are lazy, apathetic and self-indulgent, but we know that those labels couldn’t be further from the truth.
Activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Emma González, Yara Shahidi and Greta Thunberg are making monumental and global advancements for society. From advocating for climate change awareness and female empowerment to gun control and equal education, youth advocates are leading the crusade for a better tomorrow.
I’ll warn you that it certainly won’t be easy.
You’ll be belittled by politicians who believe that your age speaks louder than your values. You might even be discouraged or ignored by parents and loved ones who don’t agree with your ideals—use this opportunity to educate them about your causes. Encourage an informed society, not an indifferent one.
With numerous environmental factors working against you, it’s ultimately up to you to be proactive. Take advantage of opportunities outside of the classroom, whether it’s by doing independent research or actively volunteering and working for causes and organizations. Delve deeper and encourage others to invest more time and resources to best help disadvantaged communities. By donating to funds, signing petitions and contacting local representatives to demand action, you can provide a voice for the voiceless.
Do your part, so that when others warn you to not concern yourself with “adult” issues, you can testify to the countless number of victims who beg to differ. The students who were brutally murdered in school shootings across the world beg to differ. The child who is sexually assaulted every nine minutes in the U.S. alone begs to differ. The Black children who experience a higher rate of poverty, economic hardships and stressed familial relations beg to differ.
The Black Lives Matter movement needs your help now more than ever. The wrongful murders of these young men, women and individuals were only recognized after the nation erupted in anger. Think of the millions of other victims whose stories haven’t been told. Think of the millions of oppressors who haven’t faced justice for their crimes.
Don’t ever underestimate your role in helping to make a better tomorrow; create a future that you want to live in. It may not seem like it, but your cries are not falling on deaf ears. You’re seen and you’re heard. It’s time to make so much noise that people have no other choice but to listen.
A young advocate ready to enact change
P.S. Ways to help the Black Lives Matter movement: