Indiana youth were asked to describe their experiences living in this country for the past few years, to which they responded with the following: “demoralizing,” “I want to move,” “a lesson learned,” “exhausting,” and “radicalizing.”
Like many other youths living in Indiana, I often hear adults describe the new generation as “too soft” or “thin-skinned” when approached with oppressive language, actions, or even laws. Though I may be biased as someone of said generation, I feel as though minimizing an entire people to all but a few adjectives is a reckless and mis/un-informed move to make, but it does help me begin to understand the alarming thought processes of irresponsible people in power.
When it comes to Gen-Z specifically, there are those of us who have become entirely desensitized to violence and injustice. A great example of this is how young people reacted to the 2021 January 6 terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol building by laughing and reducing the elite chaos to nothing but a meme. The same applies to the pandemic, inflation, our recent presidents, the ban on abortion, and climate change. Some describe this use of humor as a coping mechanism to the fact that it is simply exhausting to be a young person living in America, let alone being one belonging to a minoritized community.
On the other hand, some young people are developing zero tolerance for oppression. They chose to pick every battle, ensuring that harm in any way, shape, or form is met with a force of resistance. It is particularly these passionate and driven human beings who end up being labeled as “hyper-sensitive” by the very generation that raised them, that raised all of us. And of course, there are those of us who are all and none of the above! Although I am not a representative of all youth, I would like to extend my endless and immense gratitude on behalf of young Hoosiers to the adults that sincerely did their best at attempting to make this world as safe as possible for us. With each protest, social media campaign, culture change initiative, and call to action, it is critical for us to have the support of adults, especially considering the disappointments many of our legislators have proven to be.
—ICADV’s Youth & Prevention Intern