Generation Z

On January 15th 2016 I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop for Just B Graphic’s Life Series Conference which focused on the works of Sister Souljah, particularly around her book the Coldest Winter Ever.

My workshop for this class was centered around the idea of narrative that the new generation, or Generation Z as it was labeled, was a “lost” generation. I certainly don’t believe that, but wanted to spark some fire within my students so I wrote a poem that was mostly based on all the assumptions, complaints, body policing, respectability politicking that I have experienced through working with adults that work with young people, the media, general conversations, etc.

Disclaimer: Most of this poem is not what I think about the new generation (towards the end you can hear me come out). But the feedback from my students was interesting. Shoutouts from Shanice from Harbord Collegiate who wrote a fire response and performed it on stage with me at the end of the conference.


Young people like her is why I think Generation Z is not lost, but instead making due with what they have inherited from previous generations while innovating their own things at the same time; and personally I think they have a lot to offer.

Generation Z

They say yall are generation Z
Like z for zero
As in zero leaders
Z for zero long term vision
Z for zero ambition, life goals, life plans or just about life anything
Beyond Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, Pinterest, SnapChat,
Now Hashtag that on Instagram

Zero fascination beyond self-affirmation through selfies
No self-esteem though
That’s all just carefully filtered storylines
God only knows what they cropped out the box
Girls in crop tops and short skirts
Just short enough to peep a bit of the pandoras box she has for sale
See profile for booking information…serious inquiries only

Like Z for zero respectability
For self
They say yall are selfish
Self entitled
Social Welfare suckers
pull up your boot straps, stop sucking your teeth and get to selling
shelling out dough back into the economy
you got the affirmative action advantage so stop tryna play that race card
social programs for youth so stop trying to peddle your poor kid from the hood routine


They say yall are a generation lost
A lost generation trying to last out here
In a society where everything is oh so last year like 30 seconds after it comes out
Its no wonder you have no solid ground to stand on
Didn’t save to build the foundation
Instead yall love to show out
Show off
Study reality shows like they real life
So sho nuff you struggling during the regular commercial breaks boo boo

They say you always wanna break
In this generation of Netflix and Chill
They say that’s why the children of today
Are having the children of tomorrow too early
They say you can’t wrap it up, keep it closed or
Keep it together
They say yall are good at raising hell but not at raising families


They say you are the a generation gone to waste
Made of waste yutes
No waist belts
Leaves pants sagging below the waste
Translates to no respect for self with that hood mentality
Wasted breath screaming for a door to open
Sorry they don’t understand ebonics
That block slang
That hood speak
That find yourself to and translate that to Oxfordized Standard English
Just so you can get an A+ in the Queens English
Because popular slang doesn’t belong in the classroom
Not until it has been thoroughly appropriated, remixed, remastered
Run through the Hollywood mill,
Regurgitated and re sold back to you
As if you never created in the first place


They say … a lot
And they seem to speak a lot for you
About you
Down to you
At You
Around You
Above you
But never with you
As if maybe you have no voice and their assumptions about you
Is really their lack of understanding of the art that
Lies just below the surface of your creative genius
That you might just be cultural curators, linguists, choreographers
And its just that they don’t understand the dance moves, the fashion,
The dialogue in which you speak your story
But don’t ever let them translate your story incorrectly
As if you need someone else to tell your story before its legitimated,
Accepted, praise worthy and awarded for its bravery


It seems to me that maybe its time for they to stop saying and fall back
And for you to speak up and say whatever it is you need to say for yourself
Because you ARE Generation Z
Z as in zestful
Full of life and creativity and day dreaming turned reality
Now That’s what I called lifted…way up
Z as in zealous
Overly excited about possibilities, these cynics can’t possibly process
So when you speak your piece remember to have Z
For ZERO chill
And Let all of it flow out
Relay all the juicy details
Drama and everything
In full technicolor
Because life is never just black and white
So that when your story is laid down in the history books
They can say whatever they want
But you know you have spoken your truth.



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