Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

17 January 2008

When I was your age...I was the slacker!

Wednesday I got a call from a student who had a huge favor to ask - Would I sit on a panel about new leadership and talk about leadership from a Latina perspective? She was super cute in that she went on for a few seconds about how much I rocked. Aw, shucks...I like the sound of my voice, I don't need flattery. ;-) So 45 minutes later (it wasn't her fault she called so late) I was at the panel.

One question really stood out for me. The moderator asked if today's youth was ready for leadership. The panel was made up of 2 Gen Xers and 5-6 Millennials. Guess who slammed the Millennials and current high school students for being slackers? The Millennials.

Which is why I laughed my ass off when I read the headline in the NYTimes about Millennials not being as narcissistic as the general population (aka MSM) portrays them. Courtney at Feministing did a great job defending her generation:

Is it really us, people, or might it just be a little bit about you? Are older folks projecting their own unmet needs on an entire generation? Now that's narcissism.
After 2- 3 students talked about seeing their fellow Millennials wrapped up in wanting to be rappers or too worried about Britney than the state of the world, I ahemed and spoke up. A few Gen Xers chuckled and smiled at me when I said, "I'm 33, I'm a Gen Xer. We redefined slacker and apathy. Your generation is redefining it again and every generation redefines it. Bottomline, everyone thinks the youth are slackers and I don't buy it." I went on to rant on about how high schoolers took on A&F, how it's not too late for political awareness to occur in college (yes, the students thought if someone isn't a leader or aware by college, forget it.), and how sometimes women don't get feminism until they are in the workplace and runs right into a glass wall/ceiling.
How in the world are today's youth turning on each other?

Simple. It was an excellent showcase of how today's youth aren't monolithic. Damn, I wish I had thought of that yesterday! We'll always have slackers, we'll always have apathetic citizens, but when we buy into those stereotypes on such a wide scale as an entire generation, we're doing a huge disservice to those who are leaders, who run effective GOTV campaigns for candidates (there was a 17yo doing this last year on a campaign I volunteered for), or are working part-time, going to college full-time, and still contributing to the family income. Which a lot of the students who roam the campus I work on are doing.

I did it too in high school & college. Turned my nose at "those kids" who didn't give a crap about recycling or mocked my animal rights mantra. Some of them seemed to have grown out of that pre-hipster stage. Some just grew into big hipsters who still mock, yet do care...when no one's watching.

Each generation will be vastly different and yet so similar. Heck, I'm only 33 and I'm already sitting back watching my generation pick apart the Millennials.

But seriously, can you get anymore slacker than wearing ripped up jeans & flannels each day? At least Millennials seem to shower each day. I couldn't say that for most of my graduating class.

Technorati tags: Feministing, slacker, generations, millenials


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