August 14, 2020
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When it comes to Black Lives Matter, young people expect brands to step up

Recent surveys show that Gen Z and Millennials are speaking out about issues of racial justice—and they want the organizations in their life to do so as well.

A June survey from YPulse found that 55 percent of young people have participated in a Black Lives Matter protest in some form. Photo by Chris Henry/Unsplash

What do young people really care about? Past examinations have discovered issues such as healthcare and climate change have been important for both the Gen Z and Millennial generations. But issues of race and justice are of chief concern for young people, that’s what research firm YPulse discovered when they conducted a survey of 16 to 34 year olds in June to find out what they thought of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The survey found that more than half, or 55 percent, have participated in a Black Lives Matter protest in some form—whether it was signing a petition and sharing key information online or creating signs and marching in person.

“When I heard about the systemic killings of African Americans in my country, I felt like I had to do something about it,” 18-year-old Caleb Lee, a regular attendee of Black Lives Matter rallies, told CBS News in July, for a report about Gen Z activism.

They don’t want to be alone in the fight, either. According to the Y Pulse survey, 69 percent of respondents said that brands should take a stand and participate in the Black Lives Matter movement.

How organizations participate is important, however. While it’s important to take a verbal stand by making a statement on social media (59 percent of respondents support that) many young people want to push businesses and nonprofits further. Researchers discovered that 58 percent of respondents want brands to back up their statements with money and donate to racial justice funds and grassroots organizations.

The least popular thing for a brand to do? Try to make money off the movement. Only 21 percent of respondents believe that brands should create products using the Black Lives Matter hashtag.

In June, Business Insider partnered with online learning platform Studocu for its own survey of enrolled students, ages 18-32, regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. In this survey, nearly half (44 percent) of young people indicated that the current moment made them want to learn more about racial justice and what actions they could take.

Their universities were unlikely to be of help though, given that only 57 percent of students revealed there are no extracurricular groups at their school that are dedicated to anti-racism work. Colleges and universities can’t keep going with the status quo, however. The survey showed that 59 percent of young people said if their school remained silent about issues of racial inequality, it would impact their perception of the school. Meanwhile, 72 percent of respondents expect their schools to address the issue.

“I would say that my peers are passionate, and I would say my peers are frustrated, but also I think my peers are optimistic,” Ziad Ahmed, a 21-year-old Yale student and the CEO/Founder of JUV Consulting, told CBS News. “We’re looking at a world where there is so much injustice and brutality and unfairness and bias, and we’re saying, damn it, we can’t just let this keep going.”

Caitlin Fairchild

Caitlin Fairchild is the Deputy Editor of The Renewal Project.