If we learned anything from our recent Miss Independence panel and blog featuring the young women of Girls Inc Metro Denver, it’s that Gen Z is a force to be reckoned with. We invited them to take over this month’s Brain Food roundup, and, spoiler alert: the kids are into some revolutionary content these days.

“The Hate U Give”
Recommended by Sophia Gaal, 16

Based on the young adult novel by the same title, this drama explores the fallout after a young African American high school student witnesses a police shooting. “I would definitely recommend this movie because it beautifully replicated the injustice that still occurs today and the power that our voices have. It sheds light on the harsh realities of police brutality and our justice system,” says Sophia.

“Kings, Queens and In-Betweens”
Recommended by Jenny Valdez-Fraire, 19

Described as “Judy Blume meets ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ ” the debut novel from Canadian author Tanya Boteju follows a queer teen as she navigates identity, self acceptance and the magical world of drag. Prepare to laugh and cry during this light-hearted yet powerful approach to topics like sexuality, friendship and individuality.

“Before I Let Go” by Beyonce
Recommended by Nephraterie Smith, 18

If you haven’t watched Beyonce’s Netflix concert film/documentary “Homecoming,” consider it your homework assignment. The film follows Queen B through the diligent preparation and flawless execution of her 2018 headlining Coachella performances; a precursor to the 40-track corresponding live album that dropped earlier this year. Nephraterie has one track in particular on repeat: “Before I Let Go” is a cover of the 1981 original by soul band Frankie Beverly & Maze that’s been a black cultural touchstone for four decades.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”
Recommended by Morning Star, 15

Based on author Sherman Alexie’s own experiences, this book tells the poignant story of Junior, a budding cartoonist determined to take his future into his own hands. His plan of attack? Leave his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

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