As any "Hamilton" fan knows, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton's first line in the musical is "Look around, look around at how/Lucky we are to be alive right now." And she was right—she and her sisters were extremely fortunate to be well-to-do young women in Manhattan when the Revolutionary War was starting. The people alive in that time period had the opportunity to be a part of a country that was just forming—they got to see an immense societal change in their lifetimes.
Not many generations have been able to say the same in recent United States history. Sure, there's the generation that worked for women's rights in the 1960s and 70s, but after the generation that saw the Civil Rights Movement out, there wasn't much significant change in the way our society operates socially—until 9/11, that is.
The generation coming-of-age at that time saw a rise in discrimination against those of Islamic faith and those that share ethnic similarities to Middle Eastern and South Asian peoples. They watched as air travel rules changed dramatically and Americans began to fear for their safety anywhere and everywhere they went.
Much of this manifested in President Donald Trump and the white nationalist movement—two things that threaten the freedoms of anyone who is not a white male. The people who were old enough to witness and comprehend the changes in our nation's laws following 9/11 were scared and perhaps acted in rather extreme ways.
Most people in my generation don't remember much about 9/11—I was two-years-old for Pete's sake. Those who do remember the day itself have very little recollection of what life was like before a few terrorists changed the United States' federal laws forever.
However, we have been around long enough to realize something major: the intense racism and discrimination that has resulted from not just 9/11 but also from slavery and gender equality movements does not belong in our home sweet "home of the brave."
I am proud to be a part of a group of young adults that are not sitting idly by—we're doing what we can to make the changes we not only want but need to see. We got out there and voted in the 2018 midterm elections, and it paid off in a big way. Finally, more people of color and of non-straight, non-white, non-male backgrounds have won some power and received the representation they oh so deserve. We've moved to create inclusive, accommodating group spaces and activities and have chosen to educate one another about ways of life we might not have been familiar with. We're doing what we can to make a difference, but we're just getting started.
Eliza was excited to be alive because, as her sister, Angelica sings, "...the/Revolution's happening in New York." There is no doubt in Eliza's mind that there is going to be a significant change in her world and that she's going to be a part of it somehow. The only difference now is that we have a very different, possibly much steeper, obstacle to overcome: we have to change people's (flawed) beliefs.
I know it's going to be tough, but there are "new ideas in the air."
Someday, we're going to look back on this era and just smile knowing we were lucky enough to be a part of a pivotal time in American history—a time in which everything started to change for the better.