Column: It’s our turn now

By Lovette Ajayi

Our parents are from a generation of activists who fought for a lot of things, ranging from women’s rights to civil rights and the Vietnam War. In a 20-year span from 1960-1980, a lot of monumental change occurred through their activism, and our life today is shaped by them in a lot of ways. The fact that I, as an African-American AND a woman, can be at this University, in a high-profile position as a columnist, is testament of that work. We take a lot of things we have for granted, and what we need to realize is that they were not always there. Our parents’ generation paved the way for a lot of change, and what they fought for is still relevant today.

There are a lot of things that have changed, but many issues have arisen that are new to our generation, such as the global pandemic of AIDS. We will never run out of things to fight for, yet we will also never run out of excuses about why we haven’t fought. People are usually willing to spend $5 to go to bars and parties, but when it comes to donating money to a worthy cause such as the fight against AIDS or cancer, we find ourselves broke. We have no problem spending $90 on shoes, but if someone was to ask for $3 as a donation to a charity, we would be shocked and appalled. I’m not saying that we should feel obligated to donate all of our money to a cause, but I do believe that we should be more willing to make sacrifices for things that are worthy.

Money is not the only thing of value because time is also of the essence. Instead of sleeping until 3 p.m. every Saturday, it would not hurt to help out at a local charity. A lot of people at the University are alumni of the Chicago public school system who know we were required to have a minimum of 40 hours of community service to graduate. Although it is an oxymoron of sorts to have mandatory volunteer hours, it is still a very good initiative. After fulfilling that need, many people neglect the whole concept of giving back through your time. We should make it a self-requirement to give back to the community because if no one did, nothing would get done.

We are faced with so many issues, and as countless as they are, we should all be passionate about at least one of them. We can give our time, clothes or money to different causes, and we would be making an actual difference. I challenge everyone to give something to a charitable cause, or even go a bit out of his or her way for something they believe in.

Apathy is the adversary of potential, and we have to stand for something because we have so much power to affect change. There are a lot of injustices all around, and when we see it, we complain about it. However, we have no right to complain if we do nothing about what is going on around us. It is quite frustrating to see so many things wrong, but to see the people who can affect change do nothing is even MORE unnerving. One, two or three people can’t bring on a drastic change. And until we realize the power we hold, and the voice we have refused to raise high enough, nothing progressive will happen. Just like our parents initiated change for us, we need to become a generation of activists in order for our children to live in a world that is even better than ours.

So to my fellow generation Xers (or Y; or whatever we are), let’s all become active in our community, and let’s leave a legacy beyond that of the “Internet generation.” It’s been my pleasure taking up this space. Stay positive, folks!! p.s. Facebook me ;-).