PBS NewsHour Extra
Generation Z and Student Activism
Generation Z refers to those born between the late 1990s to early 2010s. This generation is now entering adulthood as the national grapples with issues ranging from the coronavirus epidemic and recession to mass protests over systematic racism. Two organizers, 16-year-old Thandiwe Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles Youth Vanguard, and 17-year-old Jalen Thompson of O’Fallon, Missouri, share their views of these historic times and the power of their generation. Watch the video (edited for length) and answer the discussion questions. To read the transcript, click here.
- According to Thompson, the viral image of him arm-in-arm with O’Fallon’s police chief shows that the problem is not solely with individual police officers. It is more with the system police operate under which has allowed them to commit inhumane acts and get away with them, Thompson said.
- Abdullah describes using terms like “defund” or “abolish the police” not as literal demands but rather protesters asking the public to reimagine what safety looks like in America.
- Generation Z is ready to revolutionize the world, Abdullah said. However, it is important, she explains, that older generations take an active role in doing their part to make sure the future is bright.
Discussion Questions: Generation Z and Police Brutality
- Essential question: How are members of Gen Z approaching the issue of police brutality? What message do Gen Z-ers want to send to older generations?
- What methods exist for Generation Z to speak their mind about police brutality?
- What issues are you passionate about? What aspects of society would you like to see reformed? How can you help bring about this change?
- Media literacy: Were members of Gen Z featured who disagree with the sentiments expressed in this story? Why or why not?
- Listen to this additional clip from NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs, “How Gen Z is approaching this historic moment of change,” in which teens across the country share their perceptions of this time in their lives.
- Ask your students to write a short activism plan on how they would approach reforming an institution or policy at their school.
Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.