In a beautifully worded article about Simone Biles’ brief hiatus and courageous decision to say “no” when she wasn’t okay, the author wrote, “the last generation of the mules”, when addressing her, mine and Simone’s generation — otherwise known as Gen Z. First, what an image. Secondly, she’s exactly right. We are the people who will leave the situations — whether it be a toxic relationship, a poor work environment, a crappy living arrangement — and not look back. One thing about us is that we’re going to go and find the people and circumstances that suit us rather than having to adapt and deal. And I’m proud of us. Why doesn’t the generation before us share that sentiment?
I hate generalizations, but bare with me here: The generation before us will say that we don’t know how to stick around and fight the fight. Fight with the people who don’t see your worth? Stay with the person who doesn’t appreciate your efforts? Remain in the same place year after year and fall into a predictable existence? No, thank you. There’s too much out there. Perhaps, the limited exposure to opportunities and places beyond the ones they were born into are to blame. Maybe we should point to limited visibility of heroes outside of the world-class athletes, rappers, actors and the Huxtable parents — a doctor and lawyer respectively. What about the newness of the internet? Or the less complex technology? It may very well be all of the above.
Despite the more than apparent opportunities that social media and other developments of the 20-teens — and perhaps even earlier — have provided us with, there’s pushback. A career in media or the arts still isn’t a career. People are making thousands, tens of thousands, and in the very fortunate cases, MILLIONS creating content. An honest living, by definition is “making a good amount of money from one’s hard work”, and some may disagree, but spending hours upon hours planning, filming, editing day after day, fits the description. I can imagine that it is almost inconceivable for some. You make how much doing what with your time? You can do what from your bedroom in your pajamas? If you’re reading this with the tone of your momma, grandmother, father, uncle, or whoever, we are the same. It’s the tone of the generational schism created by all of the aforementioned causes and then some.
They crawled, so we could stand tall in the face of all that is wrong in our communities and world by looking ourselves in the mirror and altering our behavior. They walked so we could come out the gates, hit top speed, and cross the finish line to better education, higher paying jobs, social mobility, lasting change, ownership and everything else our white counterparts always knew was out there. And for that, we cannot thank them enough. I just wish they would hear us and hold the sly comments until after we leave the room.