‘Millennials’ (also known as Generation Y) are those born between 1982 and 2000. The baby-boomer generation says we’re lazy. Physically? Maybe so. But mentally? Morally? Philosophically? Not a chance. We are powerhouses of thought and opinion, and damn it, do we have convictions.
Recently, the US Supreme Court delivered a monumental verdict that ruled same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right. Are we happy? Very. But are we content? No. Don’t get us wrong; this was a fantastic victory for LGBT rights in America. But in the grand battle for equality, it’s but a small victory – and many of us millennials are not satisfied.
Many would ask “How can you say that? Isn’t this what gay people and allies have been fighting for all these decades?”. It’s true, but it’s only one step towards a broader goal. So what else are we fighting for, and why?
Generation Y are exposed to greater diversity than their predecessors – ethnic, religious, gender, and sexual orientation – and as a consequence many of us will face identity-based struggles. Because of the internet, our individual experiences are often shared experiences spread globally. We have a social media presence through which we share information and read other viewpoints on current events.
It means we are now inter-connected in a way no other generation has been. We understand each other far more than our predecessors, and we are beginning to understand that when it comes to change, every voice matters. This was never more clear than in the aftermath of the Supreme Court same-sex decision.
Many of the negative reactions were based on outdated religious values, repulsive comparisons to terrorism, and offensive claims about the legitimacy of sexual orientation and marriage itself. Much of it came from Generation X and Baby-Boomers, and it revealed much about why millenials aren’t satisfied.
We’re not satisfied because we’ve seen the greatest threat to equality: ignorance. How many of your elders and friends realise that Latina women have the largest wage gap, earning only 54 cents for every dollar that white men earn? How many know that 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide? How many know that the majority of drug users in America are white, but that the majority of people prosecuted and jailed for drug use are black?
Discrimination runs rampant in America today, fed lavishly by prejudice, apathy, and ignorance, and entrenched by the generations that preceded us. Although we have made great strides since the start of the century, Generation Y still have a battle to fight in the name of our minorities.
Millennials are far more tolerant than older generations, and because of our interconnectedness and ability to listen to one another, we hear about the struggles of those who might not otherwise have a voice. We’re a passionate generation with strongly held morals, and we’re becoming more and more inclined to voice these convictions of ours, and on a global scale.
I am a straight, white, cis-gendered male from an upper middle-class family, raised in a Christian household. For all intents and purposes, I am THE face of privilege. I also happen to be the face of the oppressor. My traits and identities put me in a majority that has stifled minorities for centuries. It was other millennials who challenged me to recognise my highly advantageous social status. It was also millennials who encouraged me to use this to the advantage of minorities whenever possible.
After four years of college, surrounding myself daily with millenials, I’ve come to learn that we have flaws. We’re inconsistent, often self-centered, and plenty of us are ignorant. But then again, many of us have also recognised how vastly different we all are from each other, and we’ll have something to say about it. Generation Y may be easily drawn to indignation, but many of us have a right to be – and we’ll always have something to say about that, too.