The call for resistance in the United States has been heard and answered. Five days after writing an article about the disproportionate death of Black Americans historically and presently, I witnessed the now-infamous video of George Floyd’s murder and the American public’s response to it. To quote Dr. Cornel West, what we have now is “hope in the form of motion” as protests, riots and general unrest continue to embroil the nation.
I believe it is important to recognize the presence and impact of my generation, Generation Z, or “Zoomers,” in all of this. It is factual that mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings incited what many of us have watched for weeks on the news. American youth literally brought the Democratic Party to their knees, adorned in kente cloth in their tacky, desperate attempt to remain on the “right side of history.” American youth set fire to the Minneapolis Police Department and upended squad cars. American youth have looted and firebombed countless small and massive businesses in passionate displays of indignation and anger. American youth have demonstrated their power and potential for destruction; they have been recognized by the federal government as a formidable force of resistance and change, and this is why they have listened to us. The continuing violence of officials has bred the violence of the opposition, and the latter has been sufficient enough to elicit apologies and policy change regarding the former.
This being said, this moment constitutes a tangible and historic victory for the forthcoming generation. The resilience of young Americans has brought forth the greatest American movement toward civil rights since the Civil Rights Movement decades ago. Now that it is especially fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of this moment, American institutions have responded, again, to align themselves on the “right side.” This can come out of sincerity and it can come out of corporate necessity, and I have found that I do not care either way. If speaking in support of this movement is the only way to avoid a company from tanking, so be it, for we, Black Americans, deserve this kind of dedication for all we have suffered. And, of course, it is young Americans that vigilantly watch companies’ and public figures’ responses to the issue, and hold them accountable when they are disagreeable. We have become a tireless, intricate, and effective force for resistance and change, and we should recognize this status. In recognizing this, we recognize that it would be fatal for us to overlook the urgency of our moment, of our historic triumph in the face of a perennial and barely penetrable American institution: racism.
We must recognize that there are no limits to what we, collectively and individually, can do. This movement is a tangible and historical testament to our power, and I don’t believe that we will allow the impact of this moment to fade in our memories. I don’t think this is something our young, active minds will soon forget. But neither will the more wizened and reactionary minds of those who seek to suppress and spin our progressivism. Dr. West went so far as to say that he expects backlash from the neofascist crowd, and the present surges in lynching and reactionary police brutality proved him right. The potential clashes between the force of this generation and the reactionaries of this and previous generations are a particularly interesting branch of the national conversation. The white supremacy that killed Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others have not met its match, been stymied or extinguished in the slightest. Trust that it has not even batted an eye. The worst injury that it has sustained is some additional stigmatization, which, as we know, was never enough to stop it before. It would be ludicrous to assume that it would be enough now.
But it would be equally ludicrous to think that the progressivism of this generation would back down from white supremacy. They are challenging it now and will continue to do so. Reactionary responses, I think, could have the potential to begin a full-blown war with the current generation. Could we see armed conflict between Christian right extremists and young progressives? Will protestors evolve into hot-blooded revolutionaries and seriously attempt to overrun the White House instead of rallying outside of it? It almost seems as if there is static electricity in the air of American cities today as we wait to see what might become of them, but what has become of them now is meaningful in its own right. What is most important now, I believe, to channel Dr. West again, is to stay in motion until the ends have fully justified the means.