April 11 2016

As the father of two millennials, I know how obsessed this generation is with Snapchat, Instagram and every other social platform. But, it’s not just about selfies at the ballpark. Across the nation, more young people are using their smartphones as tools to fight for what they believe in.

From the #BlackLivesMatter movement, to immigration reform, to shaming corporate greed, one thing is clear: We’re in a new age of youth rising.

If young Californians are making an unprecedented investment in social change, why aren’t they taking that crucial step?

The California Endowment, which depends on deep social change to help empower struggling families, was determined to find out. We commissioned a study to better understand what issues young adults care about most and why they’re not voting. We made a point of listening most closely to young adults of color and those in traditionally underserved regions. They are most likely to fall through the cracks of a traditional Get Out the Vote campaign.

In all of the interviews and surveys conducted by our researchers, one theme was consistent: discrimination. Young people view discrimination as the pre-eminent social justice issue of our time.

But it’s not only the traditional definition of “discrimination.” They are concerned about the most common consequence of discrimination: inequality.

They’re concerned about not being able to afford college.

They’re concerned about being denied access to health coverage or clean drinking water.

They’re concerned about a dearth of job opportunities for young people.

And they’re concerned about the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Simply put, they see a lack of equity and inclusion as barriers to healthy, productive lives.

The youths we heard from are demanding inclusivity and practicing solidarity. They want to be included in critical conversations affecting our communities. Click here to continue reading op-ed in its entirety on Sacbee.com.

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