My friend Ashley Withers wrote this piece on the Middle Eastern revolutions this spring and why it matters to our generation. You can follow her on Twitter (@ashleywithers) or send her feedback in the comments below!
We are Generation Y.
All of us 80s and 90s kids are part of the Millennial generation and though we have been raised in a world with greater resources, our employment opportunities are few and far between. Youth unemployment in the US has reached it’s highest level since 1948. It currently sits at 18.5 percent. But this isn’t a problem just facing our generation in America, it is happening all over the world. Youth unemployment is high in Europe, reaching 40% in Spain and just short of 20% in Britain. In Canada, our neighbor to the North, it is 15.9%, the highest level in 11 years.
Recently I’ve been learning about the conditions in the Middle East that caused the revolutions this spring and the unrest and unemployment of the youth across the region is a major factor. In the Arab world roughly 100 million people are between the ages of 15 and 29- about 1/3 of the entire population of the region.
The youth across the Middle East have been dubbed “Generation U” by author Robin Wright and I think that this is a better name for all of us. “Generation U” stands for the Muslim young under the age of 30 who are “unfulfilled, underemployed or underutilized, and underestimated” and all I think that all of those words describe most of the 20-somethings in America. The real question now is what are we going to do about it?
Though the revolutions across the Middle East would not have happened without the decades of oppression, it is Generation U that finally instigated real changes in the region. The first generation with access to the Internet and they used it to their full advantage.
Morrocan rapper Soultana released a song that went viral online. It loudly proclaimed her frustration for the state of her world. She sang:
“They said they’d bring a new system for our country,
But reforms are no more than hallucinations.
They said “Vote” because we have transparency and credibility,
But when they won, they closed their doors and nothing happened.”
Soultana has become one of the voices of change in the Middle East. We are still searching for our voice here.
If we can turn Generation Y into our own form of Generation U, we can make real change- a change for our situations and a change for our society and its record-setting youth unemployment.
I don’t want to be unemployed, unfulfilled or underestimated any longer. What about you?