The Comfortable Generation

Because of my current occupation on board a cruise ship, I have limited access to the television programs I enjoy back home. Here, I spend a lot of time watching news programming such as MSNBC. Now when I say a lot, I mean it’s either the news or sports, and I’m not a huge sports fan. News programming has become my window for staying informed about what’s happening in the world and in my nation. There’s coverage of everything from weather patterns to the new MTV initiative, and from the 2016 presidential election to across the world in Ukraine and Nigeria.  Thanks to news programming I stayed up to date with the monsoon-like rains beating down upon my loved ones back home (including full-fledged mudslides and streets collapsing), and saw that Toronto Mayor Ford finally took some good advice. They tried to make him go to rehab and he said yes!

Back in America, though, what is news programming if it didn’t include the nation’s current scandals involving race relations? (If only Olivia Pope and Associates “handle” racism in America). Between Clive Bundy and Donald Sterling, it should be pretty obvious to everyone that racism still exists, right? Racism is a current national problem, not something just to be read about in history books. Clive Bundy (and I’m sure plenty of other Americans) currently believe maybe the African Americans were happier people as slaves. Donald Sterling, and his “master” mentality, speaks as if he should be thanked for all the food, clothing, and shelter he provides his black players. Thank ya’ massuh?

The blatant racism sparked conversation and an outcry nationwide. That’s good. It’s necessary to speak out against discrimination. It was, however, this outcry that intrigued me the most. You see, if you look at the coverage following the current racial tension, who do you see? I don’t know about you, but I see a lot of grey hair. You see older generations speaking out and pushing for the intolerance of racial bias. You see a generation of people of color who have been fighting racial injustice since they were the “twenty-somethings” of our nation.  The majority of those demanding equality, demanding a change in the nation’s mindset, demanding answers and solutions and progress… are the same voices who have been demanding it for 40+ years. I lovingly call them “Al Sharpton & Friends”. However, where are our “twenty-something” advocates for change?

If you look into our country’s past and look at the push for voting rights and equal educational opportunities and equal pay, etc., it is young people at the heart of all of the movements. Students held sit-ins and local protests nationwide. Young people were freedom riding and the 20 and 30-somethings were flocking to the streets to march. It wasn’t just a young person’s movement, but the youth of that era held the passion and the energy and courage that drove a nation to change. THAT is what’s missing in today’s fight to combat racial injustice.

In the late 90s, the youth were referred to as Generation X, with the Spice Girls providing a theme song for an entire generation via a Pepsi commercial. Then Y2K hit and the “Millennial Generation” was born. I call us all, The Comfortable Generation. Most of us believe the past 40+ years have completely redefined our country and issues like racism are simply isolated, singular events. We are comfortable believing the generations before us completed all the heavy lifting in terms of race relations in America. We are comfortable with micro aggressions coming at us daily and even throwing a few out there ourselves. Oh the comfortable generation. Comfortable with things just the way they are.

The Comfortable Generation; comfortable living in a nation where political parties speculate election outcomes based on a belief that we, young people of color, won’t vote. Comfortable are we, raising families while the GOP pushes for widespread privatizing of education, which will subsequently segregate schools and limit the educational opportunities of several minority races in numerous parts of the country. This generation is comfortable living in a country where the President actually had to defend his nationality, simply because he is a black man. Young people are COMFORTABLE thinking that the struggles of the past are behind us and “I don’t have to speak up, speak out, or vote. Someone else will”. As time goes by, also, we become more and more comfortable with our young people being slain and jailed, with no justice prevailing for them.

Melissa Harris-Perry (MSNBC) states:

“What I have taken on as my own – you don’t have to have all the answers and all the solutions to all the problems TODAY. These problems have persisted and lots of folks have been working on them. You take up the banner and you work on them during your lifetime and you pass it on to the next. The struggle continues. “

Can we as a generation say we have picked up where our parents left off? Have we picked up the banner yet, or are we still allowing our parents and grandparents to hold onto it?It’s time for The Comfortable Generation to get uncomfortable. The comfortable generation has been comfortable long enough. If we don’t start becoming a loud, active voice in our nation, we could see America revert back to the racial bias of the past. We have some amazing tools at our discretion. We have power in numbers and platforms such as social media and the internet, which can take a fight against injustice to new, powerful levels. Also we have some of the brightest young minds matriculating in our HBCUs. The relevance of the HBCU to today’s young people has been in question the past few years. Well the relevance is here. Besides providing educational opportunities for all, the HBCU has the potential to be the drive and passion behind this current generation’s contribution to the fight against injustice. Historical Black Colleges and Universities hold some of the most passionate, motivated minds of our time, and it’s time to put that beautiful brain power to use

Until racism is truly a thing of the past, comfort is not an option.  Are you comfortable?

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