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Brief Published: 20 Apr 2020

Activism Moves Indoors Amid Covid-19 Crisis

@AmeliaSwaft, Twitter

Governmental inadequacies and social disparities revealed during Covid-19 are re-energising digital activism and galvanising Gen Z’s (born 1995 to 2009) progressive politics. Organisations are in turn transitioning to indoor efforts to replace in-person outreach, training sessions, and demonstrations.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest US civil rights and LGBTQ+ advocacy group, has created the Team app, connecting fieldwork volunteers with peers via text, email and social media. In a statement about the app’s release, the group declared: “In short, text messages, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram and Twitter direct messages are the new door knocks.”

US reproductive healthcare nonprofit Planned Parenthood’s youth-led Generation Action group adopted a similar peer-to-peer app model with Outvote, which encourages friends of users to take digital action on issues pertaining to women’s rights. The organisation has battled legislation attempting to close women's health clinics by classifying them as a non-essential service during Covid-19.

Gen Z climate crusaders Greta Thunberg and Xiye Bastida have announced a digital strike initiative, encouraging youths to log out of school programmes and post pictures with climate strike posters using the hashtag #ClimateStrikeOnline, which already boasts 16,000 posts on Instagram. Poster slogans are Covid-19-centric, with statements like “Corona is the virus, capitalism is the disease” and “Back to normal = Back to a climate crisis”.

With more time spent in the home, firearm safety and storage is top of mind for Gen Z. Anti-gun violence group March for Our Lives tweeted, “Taking to the streets is not the only way we can organise to make change […] Join us for a whole new phase of the movement.” Participants are asked to text “Our Power” to 954-954 to stay updated on digital initiatives.

For more on the political priorities of digital natives Gen Z, and how to join them, see 10 Teen Causes to Watch and Dynamic Youth: Making Scenes.