Grace is twelve. That sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose is adorable. A brunette Pippi Longstocking! And I’m her Nani (a.k.a. grandma).
So I decided to interview her for my blog. What’s important to her generation? (BTW, here’s a brief on the generation born from the mid-90’s to early 2000s. Generation Z (also known as Post-Millennials, Plurals, the Homeland Generation, the iGeneration, Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, or Digital Natives) is characterized by widespread usage of the Internet from a young age and comfort with technology. Interacting on social media websites forms a significant portion of their socializing. Some commentators have suggested that growing up through the Great Recession has given the cohort a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity. (Wikipedia)
So here we go…
Me: What’s important to your friends?
Grace: Being popular, knowing what’s in and fashionable, and having a boyfriend.
(Some things never change.)
Me: What’s important to you?
Grace: Those things, plus being understood and having good friends.
Me: What do you want to be when you grow up (and why)?
Grace; President of the US, because something is always going wrong. I would take it seriously, especially racism.
(BTW, Grace’s school is about 15% African American, 15% Caucasian, 35% Asian/other, and 35% Latino.)
When I pressed her on racism, she said, “Here, let me draw it for you.” And she created a social hierarchy chart with a few popular white kids and a few popular black kids at the top, then a layer of what she called “normal” white kids, Latinos, and Asians, then a mixture of geeks, nerds, dorks, and all the rest. (I always thought of geeks, nerds, and dorks as mostly white, but that’s no longer true. And by the way, geeks make good grades and could be popular but they don’t try hard enough, according to Grace.)
But her main point was racism. She gave me some ugly examples, which I won’t share here. Then she said an interesting thing. “I’m glad the generations before us stopped slavery and racism, but racism is coming back.”
(Pause button.) I forgot to mention that (coincidentally) I’m reading Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad.” Talk about ugly, sick, inhuman examples of racism. How much has changed? Sure, we don’t see Friday night public hangings in our cute town centers, but Grace’s drawing kind of stabbed me in the heart.
OK, back to the interview…
Me: What do you want to tell my readers about your generation?
Grace: I love my friends, but I think our generation is spoiled and messed up. My friend “Andrea” is constantly checking her phone. And everyone knows which kids play video games all night because they fall asleep in class.
Now, might Grace be skewing her responses to what a grandma might “want” to hear? Sure, but she was clearly NOT happy with “Andrea.”
I’ve been musing on it all for a few days. Racism. The downside of technology. Emotional distress due to the recession. And that’s without pre-teen angst and hormones thrown in!
Me: Wanna say anything else?
Grace: Can I preach? (I’m not making this up.)
Grace: Don’t do drugs. Don’t be stupid. Try to enjoy life. YOLO.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.