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July 27, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1994-07-27

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'GenXploitation':

Mtanding by in the
face of tragedy
O n the front page of The New York Times. among the headlines and articles.
is a picture of a child: the caption reads. "A 13-year-old Rwandan boy carried
the body of his 4-year-old sister, a cholera victim, to a burial site yesterday at a
fugee camp at Goma, Zaire. The accompanying article presents a grim view of
disease and death. Over the past couple of months. apocalyptic visions have
appeared on our television sets. We have seen streets lined with corpses. We have
seen women with scars inflicted by machetes. We have seen scores of bloated
bodies float down a river. But it seems that these images have not moved us. Only
now, many months after the crisis began, is there some kind of U.S. intervention
in the Rwandan tragedy. For too long, we were content to stand by and do nothing.
I would like to believe that it is in the American character to rise up and fight
poverty, injustice and brutality, but it would be delusional to believe such a thing.
I remember dreading the wait for the school bus when I was in third grade. Two
oys, my classmates, were amused by slanted eyes. They were amused by Chinese
culture. They were amused by the sound of the Chinese language. They expressed
this amusement by throwing rocks and bottles at me. The other children were quiet
and well behaved: they silently stood by and did nothing.
There are many strategies to becoming aloof from the tragedies and tyrannies
of the world. Some choose not to see. I have heard people express the belief that
racismhas beenerased fromsociety's landscape. These people bemoan affirmative
action and political correctness. "Everyone is equal," they say. Do these people not
know that policeofficers will stop you on the street if you have the wrong color of
skin or wear the wrong clothing? In Orange County, Calif., the police took any
sianteen-agerthey saw on the street to the police station to be photographed. The
teen-agers weren't suspected of any crime. It seems that some folks were overly
concerned (and perhaps slightly paranoid) about Asian gangs. Some people claim
that there is no discrimination against gays and lesbians even as they work on
initiatives which would eradicate civil rights for homosexuals. Do these people not
read of the physical attacks that occur outside of gay bars? Do these people not hear
the jokes about homosexuals which are tossed around so easily?
Some try to justify morally the evils and wrongs that occur on our planet. They
look at the AIDS and stand by and do nothing. "It's their own fault - it's God's
punishment," they proclaim, while they ignore governmental indifference and the
'mitive levelofsexeducation inourschools. Some look at the poverty inour cities
and stand by and do nothing. "If only they had family values," they say, as they
overlook the lack of opportunities, the woefuleducational system and the persistent
racism in our urban centers.
Some become too busy with their daily tasks and chores. The checkbook is not
balanced; the bills are unpaid. The magazine subscriptions and junk mail pile upon
the desk like autumn leaves. The refrigerator lacks milk. There is too much work
to be done. There is not enough time to vote, or to read the newspaper, or to shed
a tear for a war orphan in Bosnia.
It cannot be good that we are so easily able to stand by and do nothing. We get
sed to walking by the homeless and the indigent without blinking. We get used to
reading about Rwanda, saying, "That's terrible," or "Isn't it awful?" and then
tucking away the images of the refugees into the back of the mind. We build walls
around the heart and lose the ability to empathize. Maybe that is a part of the human
nature; perhaps we need the mental distance in a world full of terrible deeds and
actions.
Still, it ought to be not so easy to live with hunger, poverty and injustice in the
world.

By Jean Twenge We are defined only by our unlucky grouped as a generation.'
The official Library of Congress position in history. following the Kurt Cobain being called
listing for those of us born 1961-81 is most celebrated generation of the our generation" and dism
"Post-Baby Boom Generation." Next 20th century. The name "Generation media attention as exploi
to that. the moniker "Generation X' X" recognizes this unfortunate false advertising.
is high praise. circumstance with a sarcastic nod to Yet almost all of thes
As a generation. we have our critics, showing that we're a little seem to further prove the
acquired a bad name - and itfs not more self-aware and a little more When Newsweek ran its
just the name itself. We're slackers. cynical than they are. Scary as it is. the myths of Generation
we move back home with our parents the name is truthful. profiled a 25-year-old mt
and mooch off society. our brains Another interesting term has 23-year-old TV executiv
have atrophied on a steady diet of recently entered the media parlance: are more than all right." t
MTV and infomercials. and we GenXplotation. It describes the protested shrilly. They al
whine. As Judd Nelson says in the growing media and advertising that most people in their,
quintessential X movie "The frenzy surrounding our age group, as agree with the label "Get
Breakfast Club." "You forgot lazy, Madison Avenue scrambles to find a Of course they don't-
disrespectful and stupid." way to sell stuff to us. The Coca- supposed to be cynical at
The other names that have been Cola Co. recently announced plans so why not shrug off the
suggested for us misbegotten youth for a new soft drink called OK Cola: we don't recognize nurse
are slightly sinister as well. Bill in true GenX fashion. the can will be group, who will - the g
Strauss and Neil Howe. authors of gray and black, and interested buyers Newsweek who seem he
"Generations," call us the Thirteenth can call the 1-800-I-Feel-OK hotline. defending us by some on
Generation, both because we are the which will reassure us that despite standards? Going lookin,
13th generation in American history the fact that 40 percent of us are still "success" stories is like f
and because, well, it has a sinister living with our parents, everything is young executives in suits
ring to it. The irony of the term "OK." 1960s to represent the hi
"Generation X" is that it gives a This is why many people generation. "Generation
name to a generation that doesn't maintain that "it's all a marketing indicate an undefined en
have a name by not giving it a name. ploy" and disdain being labeled or better than being defined
Generational labeling is unfair, unproductive

They resent
d a "hero for
niss all of the
itation and
e arguments
'point.
article on
X. they
ayor and a
e. "The kids
they
lso found
20s don't
neration X."
- we're
nd apathetic.
label? But if
elves as a
eniuses at
l-bent on
e else's
g for
finding
s in the
ppie
X" may
tity. but it's
by yuppies.

By Seth Abrams
A little while back. I was
determined to find out why my
generation is called "Generation X."
We've supposedly adopted this name
for our generation, so I figured I
better know what it means. So I
turned to my trusty ol' Random
House College Dictionary. Accord-
ing to my dictionary, the letter 'X' is
much more than just the 24th letter of
the alphabet. As I browsed the
possible definitions, I didn't think it
had to do with the now-defunct
movie rating, or the Roman numeral
for 10, or a symbol signifying a
wrong answer. But one definition did
catch my eye. It stated that "X" is "a
person or thing of unknown iden-
tity." People think we are a genera-
tion of unknown identity, a genera-
tion that defies all attempts at
definition (except of course, being
defined as undefinable). Is it bad that
we are classified as "Generation X"?
The fact of being undefinable doesn't
have negative effects; however, the
consequences of the "X" label do.

Once upon a time, it seems
someone did enough talking about
America's 13th generation to classify
them as "the X generation." a
generation sans definition. We are.
undoubtedly, a very hard group to
classify. It seemed the only way to
classify us was through our
undefinability. However, this has
turned out to have potentially very
dangerous consequences for our
generation. Because of our lack of
definition, we are seen by others
outside our generation as being
without any sort of direction, values
or potential. I don't thing this is an
appropriate conclusion to make about
our generation. Unfortunately, this is
what accepting the "Generation X"
moniker has done. Currently, we
have accepted the title of "Genera-
tion X" and, thus the stereotype that
goes with it. We haven't realized the
negative effects that it has. In fact,
some of us even like the title
"Generation X" because "it sounds
cool." As cool as it may sound, why
would anyone accept a name that

insults them every time it is uttered?
Does it sound cool if I call you fat,
ugly and stupid all the time?
We must eliminare the "Genera-
tion X" label. It only serves to
degrade us as people. Not only does
it give a misleading impression of
ourselves to others. but it leads to us
believing that we are clueless and
devoid of morals. For example, if
someone repeatedly calls you fat,
ugly and stupid, it is going to have a
negative effect on you. You will start
to believe these things about your-
self. The moniker of "Generation X"
is having the same effect. It insults us
every time it is used. This name for
our generation is not set in stone.
Don't tell yourself and others that
you are lost, hopeless and lacking
potential by describing yourself as
belonging to Generation X. Whether
we have a name or not (as long as it
isn't "X"), we still are and will
continue to be a viable and strong
force in society.
Let's not ruin that by using the
awful X-word.

w 1

*Vote for Lana Pollack: She's the best choice for
By Jessica Hellmann care reform should cast a vote for Senate. She was re-elected over- the workplace and authored tough
Ann Arbor residents will find one Lana Pollack. whelmingly in 1986 and 1990. legislation to force polluters to pay
of their own on the ballot Aug. 2: Pollack, a University graduate in As a legislator, Pollack has for costly government cleanup. She
State Sen. Lana Pollack is seeking political science and education, first earned a reputation for independence has also been Michigan's leading
the Democratic nomination for the served on the Ann Arbor School and integrity. Serving on the Appro- pro-choice advocate. Most recently,
U.S. Senate. A heated battle is Board in 1979 and quickly became priations Committee, Pollack Sen. Pollack introduced a gun
shaping up among the five men and known as a person who listened. observed one rule: Just like every violence package into the state
one woman running for the seat Lana worked the long hours neces- working family, government should Legislature that would remove guns
vacated by Donald Riegle Jr. sary to guarantee Ann Arbor's live within its means. Pollack from convicted criminals, take
presenting Ann Arbor for the past children the best future possible. introduced Michigan's Family assault weapons off our streets and
12 years in Lansing, Pollack has Convinced that she could make an Medical Leave Act to enable workers require firearms training classes for
proven to be a strong and dependable even bigger difference in the state to deal with temporary family gun purchasers. Pollack is good at
leader. Next Tuesday, Democrats Senate, she defeated four primary medical emergencies without losing finding common ground and building
who believe in freedom of choice, opponents and a six-term incumbent their jobs. She also backed legislation coalitions; she organized the Cam-
strong environmental standards, a in 1982 to become one of two guaranteeing workers the right to paign to Promote Responsibility to
reduction in gun violence and health women in the oreviously all-male know about hazardous substances in fight the e 'idemic of teen nre ev.

Michigan
Sen. Pollack is endorsed by
EMILY's list, the National Organiza-
tion for Women, the National
Women's Political Caucus and
outgoing U.S. Rep. William Ford.
Lana Pollack is running for the
U.S. Senate because she believes in
better employment, affordable,
quality health care, a clean environ-
ment, equality, civil and human
rights, and better schools. Michigan
deserves to have a female legislator
and a senator with real integrity, and
Lana Pollack deserves your vote.
Helljann io SiJRF iwi-

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