The Teen Activists Are Coming, And They're Doing Amazing Things

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Youth activist Greta Thunberg
Stephanie Keith/Getty

Listen up, old people, mostly old white people, mostly old white people invested in a system that promotes discrimination based on the color of your skin, the gender of the person you fall in love with, the gender you were assigned at birth, and most of all, promotes keeping the money you hoard while huge problems happen around you: The teen activists are coming. You’re on their list. And it won’t be pretty.

Zoomers (people born in the late ’90s and early 2000s) are no longer taking your shit. They’re coming into their own. They may not be old enough to vote, but they’re old enough to rebel. And that rebellion doesn’t mean stomping up the stairs and telling their parents they’re mean. It means that, according to the New York Times, K-Pop stans (superfans) and TikTokers used social media to spread the news: reserve tickets to the June 20th Trump rally in Tulsa, then don’t show. Trump bragged a million people had tried to get tickets. They had planned for an overflow rally.

The fire marshal says about 6,200 people showed up.

I personally know several teens who pulled the prank. One got three tickets alone. He’s not old enough to vote. But he’s old enough to make his feelings about Trump known. And like other teen activists, he’s banding together with others for change.

That Wasn’t All the K-Pop Stans Pulled…

Yeah, we all know that teen activists, those wily K-Pop stans, helped wreck the Tulsa rally. What you might not know, according to The Verge, is that they also, collectively, flooded right-wing hashtags in the early days of the Black Lives Matter protests. If you wanted to have a racist ol’ time with your racist ol’ buddies, went on Twitter and typed in #WhiteLivesMatter, you got… K-Pop. If you wanted to party with other Trump fans and typed in #MAGA, you were flooded with… K-Pop. They did the same to #BlueLivesMatter.

They crashed police tip lines in several cities, including Dallas, which opened either twitter hashtags or text hotlines.

Teens Activists Stand Up For Transgender Rights

Lindsay Hecox is a 19-year-old transgender woman. According to Sports Illustrated, she stands at the center of the fight for transgender teens to compete in the sport of their gender, not their sex assigned at birth. Idaho’s banning it: girls and women who compete in youth, high school, or college sports will be forced to prove they are biologically female or be challenged by their competitors and, “if found not to be ‘female’, they would not be able to compete with the girls and women.”

But Lindsay is one of the teen activists working to change that. Bills like this are popping up all over the nation, in a full 16 states— they’re the new “bathroom bill”— the bills that refused to allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their gender. Lindsay is suing, along with a Jane Doe, the ACLU, and northwestern feminist organization Legal Voice to challenge the law.

She knows public opinion is against her (only 35.6% of women and 23.2% of men think trans athletes should compete with the team aligned with their gender). But she says that she wants, “to put a human face on the issue.” “I don’t want to be just that one trans girl. I want to be the runner who is really dedicated to the sport and tries her best every single day.”

Let’s Talk Climate Change

You old people screwed our world with your carbon emissions. Climate change, Zoomers argue, is a clear and present crisis, and no one argues this more loudly and articulately than Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, 17 year-old Greta Thunberg. She started her school strikes in August 2018, camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament with a sign that read, translated into English, “School Strike for Climate.” Since then, she’s organized strike after strike through her Fridays for Future organization, which assures everyone that “no one is too small.”

On September 20th, 2019, she and her organization led a millions-strong strike all over the globe “from Sydney to Warsaw to London,” says National Geographic. The Guardian shows people walking out from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter in what they say may be the largest coordinated workers’ strike in world history.

Fridays for Future contains directions for children on how to hold strikes. Under “asking permission?,” it provides guidance on how to deal with police and municipal authorities— not with school systems. They explain their policy of strict nonviolent resistance in words kids can understand. These aren’t just teen activists. These are preteens and little kids.

Teen Activists Fighting For School Integration in New York City

Teen activists in New York City argue that they’ve been promised school integration— the elimination of screening programs for certain high schools, which leads to unequal distributions of students of color, along with resource allocation. So they’re taking matters into their own hands by holding strikes up until Covid-19 hit. All in all, teen activists in the program Teens Take Charge have held several strikes, gotten massive press coverage, talked to political figures, and more.

Like The Who said, “The kids are alright.”

But you might not be. Enjoy your bathroom bills and your MAGA hats while you can. The teen activists are coming. And they’re pissed.