An Open Letter to Gen Z, by Satchel Lee

I’ve been inspired by people across the country who were dealt a bad hand, and instead of giving up had the creativity and courage to say, 'That’s not going to stop me' 

Satchel Lee is a storyteller, a filmmaker and the 26-year-old daughter of Spike Lee. As host of the NBCLX series "Sincerely, Gen Z," she interviewed young people across the country about their struggles, their hopes and their ambitions.

She also wrote and filmed an open letter to the generation, titled simply "Sincerely, Gen Z." This is what she had to say:

To the people out there listening, 

To the people fighting for and doing the exact things that for decades have been called impossible or unsolvable, and to the people who want to, 

I’m going to quote a song originally performed by Cass Eliot and reimagined by Nina Simone:

‘There’s a new voice a-callin’, you can hear it if you try,

And it’s growing stronger with each day that passes by.’

In the past few years, we’ve noticed a shift in American culture, where the same conversations we’ve been having for decades are left behind, and the most vulnerable are actually getting up and going out to march, to vote, to forget about tradition, party and excuses, and instead focus on each other — kids who have no experience, no education, no money and adults who are frustrated with the country and planet that their children are inheriting. 

I’ve been inspired by people across the country who were dealt a bad hand, and instead of giving up had the creativity and courage to say, That’s not going to stop me. 

And how inspiring it is to know that no matter their situation, there are still millions of Americans, young and old, who say, That’s not going to stop me. 

Why are we in this situation? If they can find their solutions despite being homeless, despite being the subject of racial bias, despite being suicidal, being hungry, seeing their friends shot before them — if the most vulnerable, lost and helpless people, have the strength to find solutions, why can’t our elected officials do the same? 

When gun violence is still rampant, childhood poverty is at a high, people are sleeping out on the streets, depression and suicide is skyrocketing, why do we spend any time looking up to people who stay quiet when we should be looking up to each other

With our differences, with all of our insecurities, with the pain we’ve experienced individually and the ways we’ve learned to go through it, no one has the answer to our problem — especially not me, a girl in her 20s. 

But I’m excited to share the life I’ve lived, and I’m excited to listen to other people’s stories and help them in any way I can. Because your voice is as valuable as anyone on TV, anyone in politics — and the technology now exists for everyone to share their voices if it isn’t being represented and to push for change if their pain is being ignored. 

All I ask is for you to keep listening, to be inspired by the people who choose focused problem solving over anger, and to let the voiceless know that you hear them.

Sincerely, Gen Z