I shared this article on Facebook this morning, because it’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart at the age of fifty-five. I immediately racked up several comments in response to this post rationalizing “OK Boomer” as “not that big a deal,” or defending the entire millennial generation from a perceived attack on the entire millennial generation (it isn’t–it’s about a specific form of disrespect and age discrimination).
Ageism and age discrimination is such an enormous problem–perhaps now more than ever before–that I wrote an academic paper about it a few years ago
. That paper has been read in over 35 countries and used as reading material in university CRT and Women’s Studies classes around the world, multiple times. I even had a professor from California call me and ask if it would be OK for her students to email me with questions about it for her “CRT and Feminism” class because it is such a huge problem
, especially for women. Men experience age discrimination, too. However, they experience it far less than women, according to multitudes of studies. (Google it.)
If you are dismissing this as a non-issue you are misguided and therefore part of the problem. Everyone should be taking it seriously. Quite frankly, I am disturbed that this has been so quickly dismissed by so many people, especially since it is
a clear violation of the laws against age discrimination
Additionally, for those who think that millennials are equally as marginalized by dismissive remarks: It may be rude and inappropriate to make such dismissive remarks, but youth has never been a disadvantage in the workplace or anywhere else. However, ageism and age discrimination in the latter half of the 20th century, and now in the early 21st century, are enormous problems for people as young as forty, and worse for those who are older.
To be clear, no one should be making rude, dismissive remarks to millennials, nor broad generalized remarks that demean their entire generation, either. But it’s not age discrimination, because it does not affect their employability nor their upward mobility on the job. Youth is not a handicap in American society; on the contrary. In a society that worships youth, millennials do not need any added advantage in the work place in the area covered by this article and laws against age discrimination. But that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to malign or dismiss them, either.
However, anyone over forty is at an exponentially increased risk for falling victim to age discrimination, and that’s backed up by solid research and hard data. Phrases like “OK Boomer” are both a symptom of and contributor to the problem.
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