I’m willing to bet a dollar that everybody here has been acquainted with a member of youth. If I win, pay up the 78 cents and I will buy a helping of avocado toast while taking selfies on snapchat with the dog filter for all my friends to ignore.
My name is Lily and I’m a member of the worst generation known to man. It’s okay, you can say the word. Post-millennial. You know, the zombie-resembling ones with an overwhelming obsession with their phones, texting, tweeting, instagramming, snapchatting, and god forbid, political activism.
Yes, you heard me right. The generation who can barely vote, are actually more politically engaged than their predecessors. Looking at recent events on the news, there is no absence of resistance from all over the globe, especially from younger demographics, as they are the ones leading the marches, campaigning to be heard and fighting back oppression. Their actions makes me so honoured to be standing here before all of you today, representing the youth community of Aotearoa.
Since voting is a luxury available only to those who are legally able, younger people, like me, have been congregating online on a pursuit for better understanding of what is going on the the world. Not to put my extremely intelligent parents down, but everything I’ve learnt about social justice, is from teenage girls on the internet. They have been raising awareness for important issues through accessible social media networks and it’s spreading everywhere, thus raising a generation who are not afraid to challenge outdated societal norms, such as sexism, racism, ableism, classism; a range of oppressive overlapping systems to maintain a hierarchy to keep certain groups above others. Must I remind you, these are formed prior to the existence of millennials and were upheld by previous generations. We want to dismantle these systems to establish equity for everybody and we don’t care if an old person afraid of change and is against our agenda because human rights matters more than one’s ego.
Most adults underestimate us and our capabilities, because they live by the misconception that children lack comprehension of the world’s problems. Maybe some of us do, which is why it’s crucial that we never stop educating ourselves on what is happening around us, as it probably will directly or indirectly impact our lives. Knowing about the world, as messed up as it is, allows for learning from past mistakes so we can progress as a society. Hopefully a society that is better than the one we are currently living in.
We, as a generation, have a responsibility to surpass those before us. Don’t let the title of “first independent country to grant women’s suffrage” fool you, as we still have a long way to go.
We have an advantage too; the internet. With one convenient google search, you can find out everything you need to know and more, such as our unacceptably high domestic violence rates, sanitary products taxed as luxury items, child poverty, mass homelessness; it’s no picnic. Let us no longer hide behind the facade that Aotearoa is perfect, and start fighting for change.
- One of the speeches from the 2017 Shakti Youth March, presented and written by Lily. Images taken from Lily's instagram. You can follow her here.