By Nicolle Berroa, age 14 and IndyKids staff
Trump is out and Biden is the new president, but the activism that got us here shouldn’t be over. After George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in May 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement gained considerable momentum. The horrific event ignited people’s curiosity to start researching and learning more about social and racial injustice. Some of this activism may wither away now that Trump has left office, but it’s important that the momentum gained from the past year, and indeed the past four years, is sustained.
More than 25 million votes were cast by Gen Z and millennials in the most recent election. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) found that 61% of 18- to 29-year-olds and a massive 87% of Black youth voted for Biden. By comparison, only 51% of the white young adult demographic voted for Biden. As discussed in an article on the Conversation, “The high turnout for both sides in the election demonstrates two things: the power of the movement and the need for it to continue.”
Young voters indicated that racism and climate change were big factors in their desire to vote Trump out. Calls for defunding the police echoed throughout 2020, but this is a move Biden doesn’t support. Instead, his campaign will invest $300 million for police departments to hire more officers and train them on community-oriented policies. However, the Biden administration does propose ways to prevent crime: expanding access to and funding for mental health and substance abuse services and creating a $20 billion grant program to encourage states to implement crime prevention policies. During the presidential debate on September 29, Biden said he doesn’t support a Green New Deal, a package that aggressively addresses climate change and economic inequality. Instead, he supports the “Biden Plan,” which many have criticized as not being radical enough.
“Our rights can be strengthened or eroded at all levels of government, and the presidential election alone cannot guarantee our safety,” explained Glennda Testone, executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center, in an op-ed in the Advocate. “Only by understanding this reality — and committing to ongoing action — will we be able to effect fundamental, lasting change.” Youth voters must understand that our activism is not over now that Trump has exited the White House.