Generation Z consists of people born from 1997 to 2012, and is often labeled as lazy, ignorant, technology-dependent, “coddled” and unprepared for the real world. By turning a blind eye, older generations don’t realize that Gen Z and millennials — born from 1981 to 1996 — are quickly overtaking the U.S. population. Values like self-preservation are shifting towards collectivism, and Gen Z is out to take back what it means to be American.
Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation this country has seen, and almost half of the generation consists of people of color. The impact of diversity is seen in many areas of the country including how Congress continues to become more diverse every year and the heavy emphasis on inclusivity in the workforce. Not only is iGen the most diverse yet, but this generation is also the most well-educated in terms of higher education, and tech-savvy. Gen Z’s background leads them to be an open-minded and future-oriented generation.
When it comes to political stances, Gen Z follows much in the footsteps of millennials. Many of the younger generation want a more activist government that addresses issues like systematic racism, climate change and LGBTQIA+ rights, and they’re not sitting around and waiting for it to get brought to light.
In response to police brutality in 2020, Gen Z has taken to the streets to protest and advocate for Black Lives Matter. They advocate for racial equality and justice in person and blow up social media platforms with the message. iGen also utilizes their power as consumers to strip support from discriminatory businesses.
While some of the older generations continue to believe social media is a waste of time, Gen Z used TikTok to negatively impact Trump’s Tulsa Rally attendance. Claudia Conway, daughter of Trump’s political counselor Kellyanne Conway, made a huge splash on TikTok by actively promoting against her parents’ political stances and pushing for emancipation. The declaration quickly spurred Conway’s parents to step down from their posts.
Gen Z is also heavily involved in climate change activism, advocating for policies that would begin mitigating the effects humans have on the environment. Greta Thunberg sparked a movement of climate strikes around the world and berated world leaders for their inaction. In one form or another, Gen Z is making sure that their voice is heard by those in charge.
Since the majority of students at the University of Georgia belong to iGen, Athens has also experienced the impact of the younger generation. Protests against police brutality and school reopening during a pandemic as well as the removal of the confederate monument from downtown Athens are prime examples of how Gen Z has influenced the college town.
With the 2020 presidential election fast approaching, the U.S. should definitely watch to see what Gen Z’s impact will be. Now consisting of 10.1% of eligible voters, Gen Z could make a serious impact on the 2020 election and will hopefully overcome the low voter turnout that has plagued younger people for decades.
Immigrants, Black people, indigenous people and people of color built this nation, and the American dream was the framework for global leadership. The U.S. stood for freedom, equality and innovation, but along the way generations have strayed from American ideals in pursuit of self-preservation and complacency. This younger generation, despite being labeled apathetic and useless, will remind everyone what it really means to be American. Gen Z, armed with their smartphones and wits, are prepared to lead the revolution that will change this nation.