When Rosario Dawson confirmed the rumor that she and Cory Booker are dating, we couldn’t help but squeal. We admit it: our first thought was “Could Rosario Dawson potentially become First Lady?” But then we walked ourselves back. Sure, we love Dawson’s activism – and the fact that she wants to run for office one day – but we’re feminists through and through. Dawson’s accomplishing so much on her own. There’s no reason we should think of her as powerful because she’s dating Cory Booker. She’s got enough power to move mountains on her own. Today, we’re looking at some of our favorite activists, letting their achievements shine. Get ready to get inspired.
You might recognize 19-year-old Yara Shahidi as the star of the black-ish spin-off grown-ish or the latest YA movie adaptation The Sun is Also A Star. (We love Nicola Yoon.) But did you know that she’s also an activist? Not only is Shahidi speaking out about Hollywood’s diversity problem, she’s also advocating for strong education initiatives for young women. Together with The Young Women’s Leadership School, Shahidi created Yara’s Club – a platform for high school students to take action on social issues. She’s also worked with Michelle Obama (our fave) on the former First Lady’s Let Girls Learn initiative, providing education opportunities for girls around the world. And she recently gave a speech at Girls Inc Westchester, supporting her peers in their effort to break barriers and lift each other up. Now that’s something we can get behind.
When 14-year-old Marley Dias made news in the book world for her #1000BlackGirlBooks initiative, she was in sixth grade. (Sixth grade!) When Dias was first falling in love with reading, her parents made it a priority to provide her with diverse stories – stories that reflected her own black identity, of course, but also books that expanded Dias’s worldview. When her sixth-grade teacher assigned a series of books to read, Dias noticed right away that all of the protagonists in these books were white boys and dogs. Motivated to make change, Dias opened her home to book donations – any middle grade book featuring a black female lead was fair game. Before long, Dias was donating those books to school libraries worldwide, starting with the Retreat Primary and Junior High Schools of St. Mary, Jamaica. We love literary activism!
Actress Jameela Jamil was fed up with celebrity culture when she started the I Weigh movement last year. She was tired of seeing women using their weight as a metric for happiness. And she really hated seeing celebrities promoting weight loss products on their Instagram feeds. So, she decided to do something about it. She started using her newfound celebrity status – thank you, The Good Place! – and her 1.8 million social media followers to promote a different Instagram image: one based in positivity, not pounds. Jamil’s own I Weigh post listed all of the activist-actress’s favorite qualities: she’s in a great relationship, she loves her job, she speaks out about women’s rights. Her post quickly inspired others – so many others that she started a second Instagram handle just for these incredible stories: @i_weigh. It’s a community of 647,000 women and non-binary folks and counting. And its mission is simple: it’s a space to feel valuable; because we’re so much more than the flesh on our bones.
After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, people were expecting the usual “thoughts and prayers” reaction with not a lot of movement. But a small, strong group of Parkland survivors, led in part by then high school senior Emma González, knew she needed to raise her voice and take her story to Washington, DC. She started March for Our Lives, a national march against gun violence. She started registering young people to vote, resulting in a 47% increase in voter turnout since the 2014 midterm election. And she’s just getting started.