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A letter to millennials: You must be the change

Chloe Herring | , Ashley Montgomery | 8/14/2014, 9 a.m.

The execution of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager gunned down by Missouri police, is not the first example of deaths at the hands of those whose so-called mission is to “protect and serve.” Aggressors keep turning to a perceived threat as justification for the robbery of Black life, even though those threats have consistently been unfounded. But it shows that the millennial generation is faced with the remnants of a partially successful civil rights movement. Of course, we are all indebted to the lives lost for the political freedoms we possess today, but as a people, we have failed to combat the racism that gives others leeway to shoot us down. The recent deaths of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner and others make it critical for us to pick up where those before us left off. Young people, too, are fed up, but face a huge question: Are the tactics of the past too outdated to eradicate the stubborn system of racism now and for the future?

We see the potential of social media presence permeating major news outlets. For instance, The New York Times (NYT) recently underscored a Twitter campaign that challenged negative media portrayal of slain Blacks in a thousand-word article on the front page of its website. But it begs the question: Will hashtags like the trending #IfTheyGunnedMeDown or #JusticeforRenisha really influence immediate action or just remain letters on a screen? Will #RIPJordanDavis or #IAmTrayvonMartin bring about the changes we desire or will their names be forgotten until next time?

Real change is needed. History shows us that the efforts toward equality weren’t unified and we know better than to believe what history books laud as a peaceful movement. But, millennials have to learn to utilize technology, Twitter hashtags and online movements in this continued struggle. Sitting behind a computer will not bring forth justice, although time and time again it has made previously tempered frustrations louder. But voicing opinions on social media is not enough.

But, maybe they’re on to something.