What concludes 2020? an eye opener for gen z

Erin Parker

photo by Erin Parker

Students of various ethnicities join Black Lives Matter protest on June 3, 2020 at the height of social unrest in our country. These young activists filled the streets, chanting in unison and holding signs that urged those in the Birmingham community to recognize police brutality against blacks and connection between race and socio-economic disparity.

Chaos. Divisiveness.

A rollercoaster of emotions, uncertainty, and fear for students in one year: 2020. Our generation has been the first to witness the un-birthing of changes so foreign to anything this country has ever experienced. The global health crisis polarizing the world, the social clashes over racial discrimination and police brutality, protesting in the streets in every state of this country, the evidence of climate change, and most of all: the failure of this administration to take necessary affirmative action in dealing with these crises that divide our nation.

Public opinion of these crises divides our nation at the core. All across the country, clashes over public policy keep American citizens at odds. As a generation of young kids growing up in America, witnessing one horrific crisis after another, the ripple effects on public opinion is confusing and strange. As the most diverse generation in this country, I believe we can unite and not be a reflection of where this country appears to be headed.

photo by Erin Parker

Another Black Lives Matter protest that took place June 15. Let our generation be the one to stay united. To bring about the change we need to end the divisiveness this year and this administration has burdened us with.

Starting with COVID-19, the number one issue devastating our county and the world, we have seen an unprecedented number of lives lost, over a quarter of a million. If one takes time to think about how drastic and heart wrenching that number is, one will understand the seriousness of combating this virus effectively. We need to continue taking major safety precautions to stop the spread. That means staying inside, wearing masks at all times, and remaining six feet away. Sadly, we need to ignore the president’s leadership on this issue, because there is none. We do however see effective leadership from our governor, Gretchen Witmer, who values each life as precious. As a generation of young people who want to see their lives flourish in this democracy, we need to respond to the concerns of health officials, and unite behind this virus, to kill it.

The recent fires in San Francisco and other parts of the West Coast are clear signs of climate change. This is mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide into the air. In our school science classes, we are taught to study the evidence to make claims about a situation. And for years we have been doing that. When you look towards federal authority and see them neglecting the science behind climate change, yet you’ve been taught all your life to study the evidence, it can be confusing. Don’t listen to the people that don’t believe in science. Listen to science. Take steps to make sure you’re not contributing to the changing climate. We can’t be oblivious to what is happening with our climate, because it is the future of where we live.

photo by Erin Parker

Snapshot of email I sent to one of Mary Ellen Brennen’s clerks, sent July 15, 2020. When we make our voices heard, we can create change.

As the most diverse generation this country has ever seen, we are surrounded by people of all different backgrounds and ethnicities. We are inclusive of everyone, no matter the background. Because we are all the same: human beings. After the unlawful murder of George Flyod, this country was sent into a frenzy. People horrified over the devastating and excessive use of police force united and protested against these injustices. The color of your skin should not give anybody the right to make assumptions about what you may have done, or where you belong. Institutionalized racism is real and evident with the murderers of innocent victims like George Flloyd, or Breonna Taylor, or Ahmaud Arbery. I think gen z is aware of this, and hopefully, we can be more responsive to these facts to change this system for the better.

Even in our own community, there is evidence of racial injustice. Over the summer, a black student from our school, Grace, was placed in a girls detention center after a judge convicted her of violating her probation for not completing her homework. She was wrongfully convicted of a violation so insignificant at such an unheard of time in this country. The judge, Mary Ellen Brennen, sent yet another kid down the school to prison pipeline and contributed to the unequal incarceration of balck kids in this country. People gathered at the Oakland County Circuit Court on Thursday, July 16, petitioning for her release from the neighboring facility, Children’s Village, being the place she was kept. In the haste of it all, I took time to send an email to Judge Mary Ellen Brennen and her clerks pleading for Grace’s reinvestigation and release. When we make our voices heard, we can create change. After 78 days of being confined in a facility that she was wrongfully thrown into, her case was brought before the Michigan Court of Appeals, where they ordered her immediate release.

photo by Erin Parker

Picture of the protest demanding that Grace be released from Children’s Village, taken July 16, 2020, just days after we found out what happened.

With the social, economic, and political issues that have now defined this year, it is important to educate yourself. The media broadcasts information that is sometimes biased and points blame at one party. Search credible websites online, read books from the library, and just do your own research. Knowledge is the foundation. And with that solid foundation, you can make informed decisions, and base your opinions off facts.

The year 2020 is coming to an end. With the election of Joe Biden, a president confident in uniting this country, and being a president for all Americans, there are hopes for the future. Although this year has messed with us in so many ways, we must remain true to ourselves, and our community. A community of diverse people, of unified voices, of informed minds, and joyous spirits, we are growing up in a period unlike most. From these experiences, come lessons. Lessons of unity and inclusion. Sadly, our leader is the main contributor to the divisiveness this country has had this year. However, we can’t be bystanders of this chaos, but participants of change. Use your platform, with social media to shed light on the facts. Because only with facts can we make informed decisions. Don’t let the power of persuasion alter your mindset and disregard for the truth. Let our generation be the one to stay united. To bring about the change we need to end the divisiveness this year and this administration has burdened us with.

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