It is not that high school students like what the American government
has done in past years; most of the teens I meet are unhappy or
frustrated with it.
Today young people are less likely to act out against the establishment
but rather to maintain a sort of undirected anger. This is heavily
reflected in today's hip-hop culture.
Hip-hop has gone from a political outlet for under-privileged
minorities to an industry controlled by white corporations that
stifle the political aspect of the music and promote the violent
and degrading aspects.
When rappers do talk about the neighborhoods they came from they
are talking about how tough and gangster they were, making the
violence that is the root of the problem seem cool. In keeping
with these cultural icons teenagers are not concerned with fighting
back against authority but in fighting against each other.
Today's jaded youth has come to expect bad things from the government
and when scandal or corruption arise many just accept it with
a shrug of their shoulders. The government only promotes this
In the years since the civil rights movement and the youth revolution
our schools are still a mess, our neighborhoods degenerating,
our voice still disregarded.
We have been told that we don't vote, that we don't care, that
we are delinquents. We have been told this so much that we have
begun to believe it.
In the past year I have been one of the leaders working to lower
the voting age in New York's municipal elections to sixteen in
hope that this will give the youth some sense of a voice. I have
been countered with arguments from politicians telling us we need
to pull up our pants before we can vote and that we wouldn't vote
even if we had the opportunity. Unfortunately I have heard these
very same arguments from students.