By Karla Fernandez Parker
It seems protests are the new norm and Generation Z has been at the heart of much of the activity.
Gen Z, people born between 1995 and 2015, believes they can change the world, according to our research. This is a generation of activists born in the post-Internet age and they have harnessed social media to marshal forces to their causes and tell the world what they believe.
According to our research, social media is viewed as a significant tool for change by all Gen Zers with 65% of Asians and 64% of African Americans agreeing. These figures are statistically significant to the 59% of non-Hispanic whites and 56% of Hispanics who also agree with this statement.
This generation is both the largest and most diverse generation ever. It is likely the last non-Hispanic, white majority though only by a slim margin. Depending on how you parse the census figures, it could be the first majority minority generation. Conservatives and liberals each want to claim them for their own.
Conservatives claim Gen Z as fiscally conservative and focused on security having grown up in a post-recession age surrounded by terrorism and school shootings. Liberals believe they appeal more to Gen Z because of the generation’s diversity and growing up with an African-American family in the White House.
- According to our research there are four big cross-cultural themes that drive this generation:
- Diversity: This generation generally likes to be surrounded by different people.
- Digital detox: They are digital natives who value physical experiences.
- Justice: They believe they can make a difference and will use social media as a tool.
- Nationality: They celebrate their cultural heritage, but aren’t identified by it.
Yet, according to our research, while Gen Z is generally proud of its heritage, only 47% of non-Hispanic whites surveyed said they were proud of their heritage. Of the minority respondents, 73% of African American respondents agreed with that statement, followed by 63% of Hispanics and 53% of Asians.
While that pride is there, a statement emerged from the research: “I would describe my culture as part of who I am, but only part. I am more than my race.”
Despite its cross-cultural nature, Gen Z was well-represented at the “Unite the Right” rally on the campus of the University of Virginia. A Gen Zer is accused of driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Cross-cultural Gen Z also marched post-election with women earlier this year. They have helped further the Black Lives Matter movement. They protested the administration’s initial ban on Muslims traveling to the U.S. The cross-cultural connection to social change is central to the daily lives of this generation. And Gen Z doesn’t hold back from making their beliefs known nor hide when confronting controversial issues, like race or gender.
How about: Karla Fernandez Parker is Managing Director of Sensis TX. As a cross-cultural marketing expert, she authors a monthly on-line column on Gen Z and gives numerous talks across the US on marketing to Millennials and Gen Z.