On the evening of September 11th, 2001, my mum and I sat in our London flat watching the television. I was five months old at the time, granted I can’t remember that particular evening but mum does. Outside, the cobbled streets gave off a low and ominous hum. People hushed inside their houses to avoid the early winter and for a split second London city fell silent. That was the evening my mum, along with the rest of the world, watched 9/11 unfold.
Globalisation has given my generation many advantages. We have witnessed wars, revolutions and terrorism many miles away and still feel the tension. I am 20 years old and although I never overtly experienced the effects of 9/11, it further perpetuated racism and islamophobia. These attitudes are baked into the facets of social media. While globalisation has provided many advantages to international awareness, it is a double-edged sword. At the same time it amplifies prejudice, racism and misinformation.
In recent years, social activism has been shoved in my face so intensely I can’t ignore it. Challenging prejudice, social issues and restoring facts are achieved by social change. For too long, myself and others have been slacktivists. Hovering through Zoom waiting rooms and Moodle submission files doesn’t exactly scream activism. To simply sit back and watch the world struggle is not a strategy. Instead it is ignorant and we neglect the power we have to change it.
Moreover, our generation is far more aware of Pākehā privilege. We stand on the blood and bones of indigenous people. As a Pākehā my world is not threatened by bio colonisation. I feel grounded in a land that was not for me and I hear it wail. Pūtiki protesters have been labelled radicals and for what? For hegemony to be continually perpetrated? It is something I cannot stand for yet don’t know exactly where to stand. I must be an activist of some kind because people need social change.
With the Earth heating up, house prices rising and the poor getting left in the dirt, our idea of a nice future is shrouded with doubt. That is perhaps the most wonderful thing about social activism – it brings with it a special awareness and passion that can’t be shaken. It resonates with people who were once oblivious and quite literally changes lives. The future does not have to be a foreshadow of every dystopian novel ever. The future does not have to perpetuate prejudice. We have an opportunity to pass it on to this generation and the generation after. At 20 years old, I still don’t have the answers but I’m working on it.