Thank Black youth for viral TikTok trends, not Gen Z…

The Screenshot: Week of August 24

TL;DR: The real truth about “Gen Z lingo,” swiping left on non-recyclers, mental health concerns, a Chief Meme Officer hire, Gen Z on staycations, Big Fish Pod, and how Gen Z is saving democracy


1) Bud Light Seltzer is hiring for an unorthodox position. But what does this “CMO” stand for?

2) A random date became a meme last month, and it’s fast approaching – what’s the date?

3) USPS is getting a huge boost from Gen Z – how are they keeping it funded?

4) Kellyanne Conway leaves her role at the White House to spend time with family – which TikToker influenced this decision?

5) Gen Z swiping left on people who don’t recycle – how many say they wouldn’t date a non-recycler?

6) Which college’s students are repulsed by the dorm food they are receiving upon quarantine?

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Your A to Gen Z

Gen Z Slang and its deep roots in Black Culture

Instead of your regular dose of lingo, this week’s A to Gen Z is bringing you a POV of a trending discussion around what’s thought of as “Gen Z slang.” Here’s Maia Ervin explaining her perspective:

The Black community has ignited some of the hottest trends in music, fashion, and social media. Gen Z and TikTok has been credited for viral trends such as “whew chile,” “it’s the ___ for me,” and “SKSKSKSK.” Yet, the fuel behind actually making these go viral are not Black youths who have created much of the vernacular and trends, but instead non-Black TikTokers.

Does this mean non-Black people shouldn’t use these words? I believe so. The reason is simply because it furthers the alienation and otherness that Black folks feel, especially when engaging in their own culture. It’s important for non-Black people, specifically Gen Z, to understand the implication of engaging and profiting off Black culture and African American Vernacular English (AAVE). The forced movement of Black bodies, catalyzed by slavery, from Africa to North America, contributed to an intermingling of speech and birthed a fully developed dialect of AAVE. Internet lingo is often AAVE with a mask, creating the assumption that it is acceptable for everyone to use. But it is not. When non-Black folks appropriate AAVE (often combined with a blaccent and/or digital blackface), they further perpetuate the stereotype that when Black folks use their own dialect, it is unacceptable, while non-Black people can achieve fame and thousands of likes through its use.

As both a member of the Black community and Gen Z, I feel it’s my duty to share the grievances of a community that has experienced the most hate, oppression, and inequity. As a Black, Queer womxn, it troubles me to see my people labeled as “unprofessional” and “ghetto” for engaging in the culture they created and for others to be deemed as “creative,” “novel,” and “original.” While JUV attempts to educate folks about Gen Z trends, we need to take each and every opportunity to acknowledge the originators of Gen Z trends and the potentially problematic impact. As the most diverse generation yet, we have to do better.


It’s no secret that lockdown has severely affected mental health across generations, but for Gen Z, the struggle is especially acute. For the generation that came of age during the last financial crash and are now predicted to be hit hardest by the Coronavirus aftermath, Gen Z is feeling overwhelmed (to say the least). The rise in Gen Z digital detoxes and their fave stars – like Harry Styles – talking about their struggles is becoming more normalized, proving these discussions are here to stay. We believe companies need to respond with thoughtful, employee-driven practices that ensures employees feel 100% while at work.

Group Chat

TL;DR: Gen Z on Staycations

As we prepare to go into fall this coming week, let’s reflect on one of the strangest summers that the world has ever seen by focusing on something that has exploded during it: staycations.

“Staycations” saw a 41% increase in Google searches at the beginning of August compared to 2019, hitting its highest point ever. So, what does Gen Z have to say about it? Staycations aren’t new to us – we’ve experienced them growing up, and even used them as a great way to get away with our budget-focused tendencies. In response to COVID, we’ve taken them up in greater numbers as the plethora of clips on TikTok show. Our mental health has been a task, but staycations have fostered, as noted by Gen Zer Ronan Madden, our “patience, perseverance and persistence”. COVID has given staycations a new legion of fans – for these new converts it has “definitely grown on” them says Sophie Howery.

The new wave of staycations is being touted as a way of decreasing the carbon footprint of international travel. A budding movement is forming, and many sustainably focused Gen Zers are ready to get on board. But others feel it shouldn’t solely be up to individuals to reduce their international travel while a significant chunk of emissions come from corporations. The takeaway? Staycations are being seen in a new light, but the reasons for taking them differ.

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Big Fish: Sink or Swim

Outside of her super insightful feature in this week’s newsletter, Maia has teamed up with consultant Carmen Carroll to launch their very own podcast: “Big Fish: Sink or Swim.” They exclaim that “taboos don’t exist here. Black women do,” and I can attest that they sure aren’t holding back with their signature Gen Z forthrightness and frankness. Give them a listen here, and for exclusives, drop them a follow on Instagram.

Answers to Trending

1) Chief Meme Officer. They’re the first to create this position – how innovatively Gen Z.

2) August 27th. It trended for no reason last month, but now there’s a big hype around it.

3) They’re buying merch – dog costumes, crop tops and face masks (so 2020!)

4) Her daughter. Claudia Conway has notoriously posted about her mom’s political views.

5) 47% of Gen Z and Millennials would not even consider dating someone who doesn’t recycle.

6) NYUStudents are taking to TikTok to show how the university served unsafe and unsatisfactory food.

talk to us, not about us.

Jawwad Mustafa is the Director of The Screenshot Newsletter. He’s always got a drink in hand - either peppermint tea, peach iced tea or a vanilla latte. If you see him with anything else, you’ll really need to vote for him as The Imposter. You can find his creativity on Instagram at @JawwadTheCreator.