Students take their voice to the streets

Gracie Holden, Managing Editor

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that a riot is the language of the unheard, and his son often says “no justice, no peace.” This year, there has been no justice, and people all across the world have been seen disrupting the peace to get their voice heard and make change. I was one of those people.

 

As someone who is a part of Gen-Z, I have been exposed to the world of politics my whole entire life. In 2020, politics are something that everyone is talking about. This election differs from past elections for many reasons, one of them being where each candidate stands on current climate issues, world events, and how much the candidates care about the wellbeing of their people.  

Who is going to win the election? Whose policies better fit me and my beliefs? Which candidate cares about the people and not a presidential status? With all of these questions being brought up, there are only so many things an unregistered high school student can do to get their voice heard. People may think that an unregistered high school student should stay out of the world of politics, but when things are happening that can make or break our future as we grow into adults, these are the things that become important to us now. 

The shooting of Jacob Blake was what inspired me to do these protests. Blake had no gun, and an interview from the Department of Justice said that officers had found a knife on the driver’s side floorboard, however, “a search of the vehicle located no additional weapons.Blake was shot seven times in his back while an officer was holding his tank top from behind. Blake survived, but he has been left paralyzed from the waist down. After the shooting of Jacob Blake, I was disgusted and unbelievably angry.  Police brutality is something that people have seen for years, but after so many years of it, thoughts and prayers can only go so far. There is a revolution, and young people are the ones that are leading it. 

 

Protests started on May 26th, 2020, after the death of George Floyd. The protests started all over the world, making it the largest movement in US history. People held up signs that said “arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor,” “No justice, no peace,” and “BLM,” which stands for Black Lives Matter. These protests went on for days, and those days turned into weeks, and those weeks turned into months. 93% of these protests have been peaceful.

On August 22, I led my first protest. This protest was on the corner of Danforth and Kelly, right across the street from the Trump stand, which was an RV of Trump merch, flags, and memorabilia. The stand attracted lots of supporters, and the corner began to be all over social media platforms. Before I had even had the chance to set my signs up, an older man drove up to me, approached me, and got out of his car with nunchucks. He threatened to kill me, saying that we are in Oklahoma, and he followed by saying some really unkind words that should not be repeated. After the cops were called and he was dealt with, the turnout of the protest had 35 people. This is not including the people who stopped by to bring us popsicles, water, and sunscreen. Most of the people who showed up to support were high school students, wanting to have their voices heard. 

For many young students, all they can do is protest, post on social media platforms, and oftentimes have uncomfortable and hard conversations. In 2018, a study conducted by Pew Research Center showed that only 27% of Millennials approved of Trump’s job performance, while the other 65% did not. President Obama had a much higher rating of approval from both Millennials and Gen-Z, with 64% of Millennials approving of how Obama was handling the Presidency, and 55% with Gen-Z. Gen-Z and Millennials continue to be the most democratic and liberal group of people in the adult generation. Between these two generations, we are more progessive on world issues and understanding of the lifestyle people live.  Gen-Z and Millennials have been seen fighting inequality, whether it be racism, anti-semitism, or homophobia for years. These two generations fight against injustices in the world, and social media has become a huge part of this. 

This protest, now called The People’s Protest, inspired me to ask people what their stance is on politics, and current events. 

One of the questions asked was if my followers were able to vote. 174 of these students said that they are not, and only 89 said that they could. With these results, I realized that students are putting themselves into politics, and showing the world that they are much more educated than people think they are in regards to politics. 

“I hate it when people ask, ‘why do you always get so political?’ I don’t think that people understand that politics go beyond just two parties bickering. It affects us all in so many aspects that people don’t even think about. Having our voices heard makes the local representatives influenced by the voice of the people. Since they ultimately represent us, we need our voices heard so they can represent what we want,” said Sana Arshad, a junior at North. 

After the first debate, I ran more polls on Instagram to see how people’s opinions may have changed, if they changed at all. The first question asked was “who has your vote?” 165 people voted for Biden, while only 76 people voted for Trump. Another question asked was “did the debate make you vote for trump, or lose your vote for trump?” 61 people said that they lost the vote, while there were 31 saying that it gained their vote. The same question was asked for Biden, only the numbers were much higher. 80 people voted in favor of Biden, while only 26 were against him. 

The younger generation seems to lean left, and the numbers are there to prove it. We can only hope people take their opinions and beliefs to the polls. 

The biggest takeaway from the polls and protests as a 17 year old is that this generation, myself included, have a strong belief in changing history and the world for the better. There was an enormous amount of support after the first People’s Protest, with very little hate coming from the older generations.  Millennials and Gen-Z have said time and time again that they will continue the fight for change and a better world, and this is the best time to prove that. 

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