Archive for the ‘Youth Op-Eds’ Category
The recent front-page feature of TIME magazine is about Millennials. Mr. Joel Stein has written an article on how my generation is lazy and selfish and then attempts to soften the blow by saying, “we’re empowered” and that “we’ll save us all.” He has taken the old “Millennials are going to Hades” argument and “improved” it with studies, statistics, and academic quotes.
Normally, I brush a news article like this off. However, the way the article was written and supported is condescending and insulting.
First, the photographs. A girl taking a picture of herself? Captions that show how many followers this girl or guy has on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook? Way to say, “Look, look, I told you these kids were selfish and shallow!” Is Stein proud of becoming a hypocrite?
Also, the “interviews” with millennials were only a couple of sentences long, whereas the interviews with non-millennials like casting director Doron Ofir have a paragraph. Since Mr. Stein thinks that millennials are too busy social networking and texting to speak long, I guess it can’t be helped.
Furthermore, there is the fact the interviews of millennials and most captions refute Mr. Stein’s argument For instance, Mr. Vali Shekhanzi, 25 , is an entrepreneur and have a tourist service. Meanwhile, 17 year-old Tavi Gevinson runs an online fashion magazine named Rookie. Aren’t they supposed to be lazy and selfish?
Besides that, there is the fact that I think that we do have a culture to rebel against. You’re either society’s definition or your own definition. In other words, you’re either Mr. Stein’s (or somebody else’s) stereotype or yourself. I personally think that for every Barbie and Ken doll, there is a geek or freak.
Lastly, there are the things that are supposed to represent us. Kim Kardashian? She’s the epitome of the Stupid Girl epidemic (listen to P!nk’s song “Stupid Girls”). Also, if my entire generation actually watches reality television, then I’m Sailor Moon. We didn’t “grow up” on it; we inherited it after 2008’s Writer’s Strike!
All in all, Joel Stein’s article mostly is cow manure. The only thing that he is correct about is millennials being more accepting of differences. Most millenials, like myself, are diverse (I’m bi-racial) or have been exposed to enough diversity to become tolerant of others.
Guess what, Mr. Stein? We are not a statistic or a guinea pig. We are human beings who deserve to be judged honestly and fairly.
I was making my usual rounds through the Huffington Post this morning when this article caught my eye. The words “eleven year old transgender” interested me because this was a person that was a part of an identity that I and most of the United States are struggling to understand. I have known about the transgender community for a few years now and have come to tolerate it through research, particularly through personal testimonies about what it is like to be a young transgender person.
To have someone as young as Sadie write such a heartfelt letter is amazing. The last personal testimony I read was in a book entitled The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Other Identities. I read this book a few years ago, not recently. It wasn’t until I tried looking for more writing like this that I realized how rare it was. Besides Sadie’s letter, the only other recent personal testimony I’ve read by a young person from the GLBTQ community was the one by Richard Blanco, the 2013 Presidental Inaugration poet.
Besides the personal testimonies, I’ve also tried to understand the transgender identity through young adult fiction. Since I still don’t know the subject matter too well, I’ve been unsure of what to read because I’m not sure if what I’m reading accurately represents the transgender identity. However, a book I’ve recently reviewed entitled Beauty Queens has a transgender character that is very realistic because she expresses feelings similar to Sadie’s.
Even though I still don’t understand the transgender identity as well as I would like, I know that it is important for letters like Sadie’s to be read and understood. For those like Sadie, it sends a message that they are not alone. For the rest of us, it sends a message that shows Sadie’s humanity, which still exists in all of us no matter how we identify ourselves.
It is clear to me is that if Obama didn’t address the transgender community, he needs to read Sadie’s letter and act on it as soon as possible. While the GLBTQ community may have different identities, they both share the same enemies: prejudice and discrimination. Most people should know by now that these things have tragic consequences, including suicide and homicide. When I saw Sadie’s letter, I thought of another transgender person named Brandon Teena. I wish Sadie the best of luck and hope that she will continue to live life to the fullest and not have it cut short like Brandon’s was.
The Baby Boomer Generation and Generation X have all had books, movies, music, and more that represented them.
What about my generation, Generation Y, or as we are known by some, The Millennials?
I know for a fact that my generation is one of the most diverse. I’m bi-racial and went to school with blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and whites. If we are diverse, then are the things that represent us diverse as well? I think so.
Here are the things that represent me as a Millennial:
Linkin Park– These guys were one of the first rock bands I really liked. They represented the angst I had in high school. Now that I’m in college, they represent my newfound hope.
In The End- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6DoCiyX1p8
Waiting For The End- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh2DqdGSQLs
Roads Untraveled- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzy0S-NO-bI
Pink– Thank goodness she isn’t another Britney Spears. If it weren’t for her, I’d still be ashamed of being a black sheep among girls. She’s shown me you can be you and be successful.
Raise Your Glass- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHtms9voyEg
Stupid Girls- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCgHEQuVtmw
The Harry Potter Series- These books introduced me to fantasy fiction and mythology. Without them, my imagination would be non-existent.
High Speed Internet- Show of hands if you had dial-up almost all throughout high school. To this day, I still wonder how I got my homework done. Not to mention, the mainstream music I had to suffer with until I got high-speed internet and this next bit of innovation:
Internet Radio- Pandora Internet Radio made my music tastes be eradicated and reborn like a phoenix. I found music I truly liked and I eventually developed the eclectic taste in music I have now.
RENT (2005)– This movie is the most awesome embodiment of the diversity I mentioned earlier because it has different races, genders, and sexual orientations. Furthermore, the movie doesn’t focus on what makes them diverse. Instead, it focuses on the friendships and relationships between the characters. In fact, the only time it focused on their diversity and individuality is when they were celebrating it.
Significant song from the film: La Vie Boheme (lyrics in description)- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTbOTjXOT-Y&feature=channel&list=UL
So dear readers, if you are a Millennial (i.e. a child of the 90s) like me, what things represent you?
This week, I was happy to read an article that defends reading for pleasure. It was reprinted on the Huffington Post from Youth Communication. The article was written by a fifteen year old named Anthony Turner.
I wish I had been able to find someone like Anthony among my black peers when I was in high school. Like Anthony, I was teased for enjoying reading in high school. Unlike him though, I couldn’t take pride in what I loved because I felt alone and that I didn’t have a place to belong. Fortunately, I managed to identify with literary characters like Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series and Ponyboy Curtis from the teen fiction book The Outsiders.
In the article, Anthony mentions that black youth culture prizes guys who are athletes and musicians. A similar value is placed on black women. Instead of intelligence, black youth culture values women’s looks and how provocative they are.
While the same thing can be said of men and women of almost any race, Anthony mentions that black and Hispanic men have the lowest graduation rates. According to the National Women’s Law Center, 37 percent of Hispanic female students and 40 percent of black female students drop out of high school.
How sad is it that a good chunk of young minorities become nothing more than a statistic?
There are two things that cause reading to be disdained: the lack of a good family rearing and the influence of the mass media, especially entertainment media. A less minor reason is that the right book isn’t being read.
As a black female, I am grateful that my parents showed me the value of an education and instilled in me a love of reading. In fact, my mother told me that she read while I was still in her womb. Not sure if it’s true, but it paid off.
With the influence of the media, some minority youth are brainwashed into selling themselves short. If you don’t do what is considered cool or popular, then you are considered lame. Even worse, some minority youth are asked by their peers and others, “Why don’t you act more Hispanic?” or “Why don’t you act more black?”
I was asked the latter question indirectly. Despite the angst I felt with that and being teased, I rebelled against the status quo and kept reading for pleasure and being myself.
What most of my peers didn’t know is that I only liked reading for pleasure when I could choose the books I wanted to read. I hated reading the majority of books that were assigned to us in high school. Thanks to the library and a cool teacher who introduced me to teen fiction in middle school, I found material that I enjoyed.
Now in college, I have gained pride in being a bibliophile and share that pride with others by blogging. I hope Anthony Hall’s pride never fades and continues to grow.
If more young people like me and Anthony can develop the courage and resilience to become knowledgable and follow their passions no matter what, then this world will become smarter, more unique, and awesome.