We've been calling them "ReGen A", rather than "Gen Z" - and here are two prime examples of inspirational, radical youth
The writing of this text book on race – entitled Tell Me Who You Are - is a remarkable achievement on any educational terms. But we also wanted to draw attention to it as evidence of what we are increasingly understanding as the voice of Regeneration A.
While we are only at the beginning of recognising Regen A’s distinctiveness, it has at least a number of common qualities. Firstly, the courage to redefine a huge terrain – in this book’s case, how race is understood – on the terms of the Facebook generation. Which means not relying on theory and history to legitimise truth, but on personal testimony.
Tell Me Who You Are invites people of a wide range of racial origins to describe their own characteristics – physical, cultural, sociological – so that they can stop being defined only by their deviance from the mainstream they happen to be living in. It’s a mission pursued with the confidence that they have a platform on which to speak and be heard: something missing from previous generations.
Secondly, authors Winona and Priya display an easy combination of capacities, not afraid to bring emotional intelligence to a political issue. There is no sense that vulnerability – including their own – might be a weakness. If anything, it’s a strength: providing a channel of communication for the previously excluded. They position the knowledge they bring as the knowledge that was previously missing from the mainstream narrative trying to find solutions.
In so doing and being, they are part of a growing possibility for young people like themselves to usher in a very Alternative starting point for the most challenging years in history for the human species. One that looks less to the very small group of people defining the political discourse – which we call the 2% - to provide the ways forward. And more to the vastly under-potentialised 98%, urging them to become response-able for change themselves.
Many of the Regeneration A actors getting attention are young women. That may not be because they are ‘better at this’ than the young men. But it may be because women being active and confident in this emerging field of socio-political activity is an important part of what makes it new.
Those hoping to find more women in the public space will often find that they are these young RegenA - who often seem less burdened by a past that has been discredited on so many fronts. And instead, are emboldened by an obvious collective and social thirst for their new kind of energy.
At the same time, they are driven by the knowledge that they have no choice. As Greta Thunberg has illustrated, their disillusion with political leaders and, in some cases, even their own parents for the mess they have inherited, obliges them to take the risk of speaking up.
Greta’s own story of how she changed her own family first – her mother giving up international touring in her career as an opera singer – set an example to follow. Her parents are now her best allies and enablers in the task she set herself.
In so doing, she became – according to the cover of global media outlet, Wired magazine (interview here) – not just the voice of her generation, but the voice of the planet.
What’s not to like?