Dear elders of my community,
I am writing to start a conversation between the generations. Ageism is not talked about by many; it is an ignored epidemic between my Millenial generation and the Baby Boomers. When you discount or dismiss my generation’s approach to activism, that’s ageism. The generation of Vietnam vets and civil rights activists, and my generation of social media addicts and selfie freaks cannot seem to find middle ground as far as our roles in the liberation of our people in this country. But movements can have different faces and still encompass all of the same ideas.
I often wondered as a child what it would have been like to live in the age of Jim Crow because simultaneously it was the Motown Age, the beginning of the cultural franchise that Blacks have created and trademarked in this country since the beginning of our journey as a colonized people, a start to representation of Black entrepreneurs, Black people giving themselves a platform to administer their art and others’. I will always feel gratitude for the sacrifices my ancestors have made to defy the constraints of institutionalized racism and neo colonialism. In recent years, as I grow into young adulthood, I am realizing that the Black and Brown person’s state of being in this country has been manipulated and fabricated so that people are blind to cultural and institutionalized genocide.
Our impulsive nature can be our downfall. That is where our elders come in. We need your support.
That is where our elders come in. We need your support, knowledge and wisdom in this era of personal disconnect, minimal touching, open distrust of humanity and the romanticized narrative of lacking emotion because of its connection to femininity, which is demonized. We need to work together to create a movement based off of collective consciousness. That can only happen whenever we begin to heal and learn to set aside differences related to age which stop our unity and progress.
What our elders must understand is our authentic and innovative nature because of the technology we have access to. We are the generation of innovation. We make our own music, and television, and we raise money for projects, all online. Our music is different from yours; it’s not “trash.” Our natural adaptability to electronics is not all bad and can be quite helpful in some ways. Technology plays a crucial part in how we communicate, but also in how we organize.
My generation is also step-by-step understanding how we as young Black people create our own identities, and not the media outlets who twist our image. It is something we deal with at a very young age, especially in schools that are more than lacking in money and cannot effectively give students of any background, but especially minority students, an education that helps shape healthy appetites for knowledge and creates healthy practices of self-worth. The school-to-prison pipeline is an agenda that will always play a part in the disenfranchisement of people of color in the United States. More than 60% of people in prison are racial minorities.
Our liberation is very much autonomous, which is important and a part of our evolution as a society. Although our respective eras are different, we still face the same circumstances and we need to find middle ground between autonomy in identity and community. Even though our belief systems may be different, it is important to learn from different perspectives and to accept each other regardless of these differences. This is a proposal just as much as an open dialogue to begin to mend bias related to ageism.
Ageism is often ignored, but if instead we learn to use our differences and our patience with one another, a clear vision of liberation would break through the fog of distractions that are shoved in our faces.
This is a letter to my elders letting you know how much your sacrifices are appreciated, but also asking you to put age aside so that we can learn from each other with open minds and hearts. You are the roots from which we come, and it’s time for the entire tree to work together. My hope is to spark a revolution where age is not a barrier to working together as a learning experience. Together, we can take back our power of identity and journey to cultural rejuvenation.
Peace and Unity,
A New Age Revolutionary