The Fight for Our Right

Generation Z utilizes social media to promote student activism and protests in the local, national, and international level.

Generation+Z+taking+to+the+streets%2C+demanding+for+their+voice+to+be+heard.

photo by Jess Daninhirsch

Generation Z taking to the streets, demanding for their voice to be heard.

Maddie Harris, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The year 2021 has internationally presented its fair share of challenges and obstacles. Generation Z, in particular, has had to endure some of the hardest years of their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. The transition to high school is a difficult time period in and of itself, but now, the lockdowns, mask mandates, and uncertainty of the days to come have only made matters more challenging. Yet, stripped of some of the most crucial times in a teenager’s development, Gen Z has still made quite the impact on today’s society by utilizing what they know best: their voice.

Amid lockdowns and quarantines, Gen Z has taken their presence to social media in order to voice their unrest and opinions on global issues and topics. TikTok and Instagram have become outlets for worldwide communication among teenagers in a matter of seconds. Social media has also given teens an advantage in their understanding of local and global news.

The death of George Floyd in May of 2020 is a concrete example of Generation Z stepping up and lifting their voices. The tragic event sparked a fire among a large number of teens within mere hours of the incident. Due to the state of COVID-19 at the time, the start of many protests began online. However, the pandemic did not silence the voices of protesters. Nationwide, members of many different cities and communities took to the streets to protest for justice and the reform they wish to see. Another example of these vocal protests is the death of Breonna Taylor in March of 2020. Mere hours after the fatal shooting, the news was all over social media, as the uproar and protesting began. Whether virtual or in person, protesters stopped at nothing to ensure their voices were heard.

By using our voices and actively proposing change, generations to come will not sit in silence when faced with controversy. ”

At a more localized level, there have been a variety of protests in the North Allegheny community, both virtual and in person. Masks were deemed optional for the start of the school year, and before the school year began at the end of August, a petition arose to bring back the mask mandate. The petition was run by pro-mask high school students from North Allegheny, and it stood at over 2,000 signatures and hundreds of comments from the community before Governor Wolf mandated mask in all Pennsylvania schools.

Alongside the online petition, high school students and their parents met with a judge and protested to bring back the mask mandate. Their efforts eventually succeeded, and the judge ruled in favor of the students. However, less than 24 hours after the ruling, another petition arose from the student body, this one in favor of revoking the instated mask mandate. Not stopping at the petition, days later students participated in a walkout on the 26th of August to advocate their right to not wear a mask. Additionally, parents have protested around the community.

As I look around at the changing world, I understand just how wrong I was in believing that only adults could make a change. When I was a child, I felt as though I was constantly told that only adults could make decisions and make an impact in society, that I was too young and not smart enough to think for myself. I was told I did not understand enough about the world around me, and I was not mature enough to take a stance on a subject. People would say things like “just one person cannot make a change” or “your opinion does not matter because it is just one.” We as a generation have come together and proven these statements to be far from the truth. Now, teenagers like myself around the world have come together and found their voice in many ways: through social media, live protests, and even student journalism. And we will not be shying away from using it anytime soon.

Everyone should approach the right to use their voice and express themselves in whichever way they seem fit, regardless of outside commentary and opinions. I am in no way saying that I agree with all of the reasoning behind protests or the methods of going about them, but I can proudly say that I am now a part of the changing society. If Gen Z wants to see changes, justice, and equality, we must make our voices heard. By using our voices and actively proposing change, generations to come will not sit in silence when faced with controversy. 

 

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Editors’ note: All opinions expressed on The Uproar are a reflection solely of the beliefs of the bylined author and not the journalism program at NASH.  We continue to welcome school-appropriate comments and guest articles.