A few weeks ago Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, created the social media site #waywire. While it’s not officially finished, Booker intends it to be a place that will inform and inspire Millennials. Describing his idealism, Booker says, ““If we can find a way to empower people to talk about their issues, ideas and passions that they’re concerned about, then we can find a way to further advance change”.
Before I go on, let it be known I do agree that Millennial awareness is a necessary part of our society. I think it’s great that Booker has acknowledged our potential and given us his support by creating such a site. While it’s debatable whether or not #waywire is necessary (as many would point out, there are already a plethora of Millennial-targeted sites and resources), I would love to see it succeed. Booker’s intentions, to me, are very applaudable. If you consider this a bias, then please keep this in mind as you read the rest of this blog.
Not everyone has the same sentiments on Booker’s project. Nomiki Konst writes an op-ed on PolicyMic (ironically another Millennial news site) that attacks Booker for his attempt to “reinvent the wheel”, claiming the need to simply support other Millennial-led solutions instead of creating his own.
Among other things, the crux of Konst’s argument is that it should be the Millennials that lead the charge into social activism and innovations within communities. In her eyes, celebrities/millionaires of other generations should simply lend “their support and resources to existing credible non-profits [led by Millennials]”. In short, this is a radical call for previous generations to pass the baton; we’ll be the ones innovating from now on (but don’t worry, we’ll gladly take donations).
Her headline, “Cory Booker is No Millennial, So He Should Not Be Launching the News Site #WayWire”, is blunt and slightly offensive to any non-Millennial who has ever started anything for us. We should not be confronting those who are trying to help us, as by doing so we’re simply limiting otherwise useful opportunities! Surely there’s a better way to address Baby Boomers or Generation Xers that downplay our potential?
Even more is that Konst, when speaking on Booker/celebrities incorporating Millennial leadership, says “ I have no doubt they will recruit brilliant young minds to run this org – but again – why reinvent the wheel? “ To an extent, I can agree with this. I see the need to retain original Millennial leadership. But the way this quote is phrased (as well as the whole article), it sounds like the older generations are wasting their time by taking in Millennials. One might even say the article discourages Millennials from joining organizations built by other generations.This type of perspective is faulty and disregards any benefits Millennials may receive when working with more experienced citizens (as well as how other organizations would benefit from Millennial participation in itself).
I didn’t write this to criticize Konst, but rather to encourage a more holistic approach towards collaborating with other generations. Let’s be honest: there’s a lot we can take away from past generations, such as analyzing past economic successes/failures or political decisions. Just because Millennials have grown up with an ingrained sense of individualism doesn’t mean we have to be stubbornly independent. I also understand that we are more than capable of pursuing routes of social activism and reform – in no way am I implying that Millennials are incapable of creating solutions themselves.
What I’m saying is that there’s a lot that could be accomplished together. While Konst may be leaning toward a dichotomy where non-Millennials stay out of our business, our goal should be the common good, led by Millennials or otherwise. If that is what we’re truly fighting towards, then why not have our generations united?
Nathan Chen is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. He lives in Seattle, Washington and thoroughly enjoys the activism-infused setting he lives in. His personal goal is to, in any way possible, gain recognition for The Millennial Generation while also helping it realize its full potential. In the future he wishes to pursue a career in law or journalism, with an intent to serve others.