Millennials for reparations and genuine economic development

Dear Editor:

“Millennials” is a generalized and imprecise term used to describe people born between the years of 1981 and 1997. This generation lives in a time where access to information is both endless and extremely suppressed. A time when paid leave is the system’s response to videos of police shootings that have live coverage, millions of views and instant commentary. A time where hashtags can start movements and end careers.

We are a generation that demands an immediate stance in response to the world and its developments. We are a generation that was sold a message of hope and change only to be betrayed by the status quo of a corrupt system that had been turned against the interests of the people.

Presented one piece of evidence after the other, millennials are suspicious, looking to differentiate between genuine representatives of progress and those who would sell out at the expense of the people.

Despite what corporate media would have you think who millennials are, we are invested and often participate in politics. Locally this is evident from the huge millennial support of Eritha Akilé Cainion’s campaign for District 6 and Jesse Nevel’s campaign for Mayor.

These young and refreshing candidates have, through their progressive platforms and genuine solution based campaigns, won the support of thousands youth and millennials, support visible at their rallies and marches.

The most recent and notable example of this being the “March Against Hate: St. Pete Stands Against White Nationalism” in response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va. This event attracted hundreds of young supporters to unite with reparations to the black community, black community control of the police and schools and many other progressive policies.

According to an analysis of census data by Pew Research Center, millennials are among the majority of eligible voters, and yet the generation’s turnout rate is the lowest among that group. This contradiction is a product of the status quo’s investment in corporate interest at the expense of the people, especially the African community.

Often this recognition is viewed as a lack of excitement about the representatives on the ballot, this is not the case. It’s not that millennials are not excited by the political process; it’s that they do not want to elect a representative whose platform does not genuinely reflect the interest of the people.

This is why Eritha Akilé Cainion’s inspirational campaign, whose slogan proposes “radical solutions” for these “radical times,” and Jesse Nevel’s truly progressive platform of “unity through reparations” have sparked the excitement and support of the millennial youth.

Millennials are often criticized and attacked for our lack of participation in the political process, which can be seen in attacks on Jesse Nevel by the Tampa Bay Times for not having voted in recent elections. Yet, what this critique fails to point out is that this contradiction is due to our generation’s general disunity with the status quo and the status quo’s pattern of attacking and investing at the expense of the African community.

Failing to provide genuine economic development, affordable housing, black community control of the schools or black community control of the police are all ways the status quo has worked against the African community’s ability to be self-determinate.

Having recognized these contradictions and the status quo’s unwillingness to address them, millennials have taken to effect political change through their own work. Both Nevel and Cainion used community organizing and social activism as a tool to create political change and empower the people.

Cainion did so by leading the campaign “Justice for the Three Drowned Black Girls,” a campaign that fights for Dominique Battle, La’Niyah Miller and Ashaunti Butler. These three black children were drowned by the Pinellas County deputies in March of 2016, and their families deserve justice.

Nevel organized for 10 years to raise reparations from the white community to go towards the self-determination of the African community, under the leadership of the African working class.

These are examples of the material ways in which young folks work to transform the social system and build in the interest of the people, specifically the black community.

Millennials are not disillusioned with the system. We recognize that the system works in the favor of corporate interest against the interest of the masses. This was evident to us by the ways material conditions remained the same under Kriseman as they did under Baker, as they did under Obama and as they will remain under another big money or status quo stooge representative.

Millennials want to reclaim politics and political expression for the people. The only way to do that is by genuinely fighting for justice and the elevation of the African working class. The most effective ways of doing this is by voting for Eritha Akile Cainion as city council representative of District 6 and Jesse Nevel for mayor on Aug. 29 so that candidates who truly want and will fight for progress, unity and solutions represent us.

Mouhamadou Diagne

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