Kimberlé Crenshaw – Intersectionality was first coined Kimberlé Crenshaw, the founder of the African-American Policy Forum. Intersecionality is a good way to analyze issues affect race, gender, sexuality, and many interconnected identities at the same time, which was the subject of her Ted talk she gave at TEDWomen 2016. “I began to use the term “intersectionality” to deal with the fact that many of our social justice problems, like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice.” With the African American Policy Forum, she launched the #SayHerName Campaign which directs attention to police action against black women. “The African-American Policy Forum began to demand that we “say her name”…anywhere and everywhere that state violence against black bodies is being discussed…We have to be willing to bear witness…to the…everyday violence and humiliation that many black women have had to face…across color, age, gender expression, sexuality and ability.“
Enjoli Moon – Enjoli Moon is the founder and creative director of the Afrikana Independent Film Festival , based in Richmond, VA, which brings communities together by showcasing the cinematic art created by people of color. The film festivial has a Noir Cinema Series which presents short films created by and about people of color. Afrikana features an annual event on Black History Month called “An Evening with an Icon” which has featured activists and artists, like Sonia Sanchez, Julie Dash, and Angela Davis. In the summer, Afrikana features Starry Night Cinema hosted outdoors at the Historic Tredegar at the American Civil War Museum and presents “feature-length films”. “It’s important that we have diverse voices, authentic voices in different forms of art that are represented, and we think that Afrikana gives a platform for that,” Moon said in an interview with Virginia This Morning.
Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi & Patrisse Khan-Cullors – In response to the lack of accountability for institutionalized racism in America’s criminal justice system, a movement was born when Alicia Garza wrote a “Love letter to Black People”. Patrisse Khan-Cullors an LGBTQ+ advocate and prison abolitionist transformed the phrase “Black Lives Matter” into a hashtag while immigration rights advocate Opal Tometi promoted Black Lives Matter into a social media platform and a Black liberation movement. Unlike “your grandfather’s civil rights movement”, Black Lives Matter is led by the people and they believe that activism comes in many forms. Initially addressing police brutality against Black men, Black Lives Matter is equally committed to addressing misogynoir, where sexism and racism intersect, Black immigration and the victimization of Black people in LGBTQ+ communities.
Angela Y. Davis – Legendary prison abolitionist Angela Davis doesn’t simply talk about how the privatized prison system targets Black women. She has lived the experiences she talks about. She is an advocate for Black people, feminism and prisoners’ rights. She was the intersection of all of those identities at one point in her life. While she taught classes at UCLA, many people didn’t appreciate that she taught there and received backlash through hate-mail with racial slurs. In an attempt to funnel her out of the university she was incarcerated for a crime she never committed, for two years before being found innocent. The controversy ignited a world wide movement called Free Angela. Professor Davis is an inspiration to many and is continues her advocacy for feminism, prison abolition and the criminalization of marginalized communities. She is also the author of many books about intersectionality and prison abolition including, Women, Race and Class, Freedom is a Constant Struggle and The Meaning of Freedom.
Kat Blaque – Kat Blaque is a transgender Black woman, LGBTQ+ youth advocate and graphic designer who uses social media as a platform to discusses the intersections of race, gender and LGBTQ+ rights and hosts a series called True Tea, where she answers her followers’ questions about the intersections of racism, sexism, transphobia, and inequality in general. She has contributed to websites such as Everyday Feminism and Huffington Post’s Black Voices and has also contributed to San Diego’s Comic-Con by being involved in a panel writing transgender characters. Kat is a great role model for Black youth in the LGBTQ+ community looking for positive voices. “I’m a woman, I’m black, I’m curvy and I’m trans. There are a lot of things that I deal with. When I talk about those things, I am literally talking about my embodiment of these intersections.”
Amandla Stenberg – Amandla Stenberg is best known for playing Rue in The Hunger Games where they became the target for racist backlash because their character was Black. They used their platform to become an activist who is very vocal on cultural appropriation and created “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”, a “crash course on cultural appropriation” which went viral. “What would America be like if we loved Black people as much as we love Black culture?” At the core of Amandla’s activism is intersectionality. After coming out and publicly stating that they are non-binary and prefer gender-neutral pronouns, Stenberg became a strong voice for Black women in the LGBTQ+ community. They will star in ‘Everything, Everything’, and will star in another movie called ‘The Hate U Give’
Mikaila Ulmer – Environmental advocate Mikaila Ulmer is founder and CEO of Me and the Bees Lemonade. Inspired by her Great-Grandmother’s 1940’s Flax-seed Lemonade recipe, Mikaila founded her own business at the tender age of 4 years old. “I got stung by a bee twice in one week -one in the neck, and one in the ear. I saw a beehive and I wanted to learn more about bees.” Mikaila invests a portion of the profits to organizations that advocate for our environment. “One thing I do to help the bees is I donate some of my profits to organizations to help the bees, and one of those is Heifer and another one is Austin Beekeeper Association.” She also volunteers her time educating youth about the importance of empowering our ecosystem by saving the bees. In 2016, Mikaila landed a $11M deal with over 50 Whole Foods stores.
Marley Dias – Marley Dias noticed the low amount of representation of Black female protagonists in literature. In November of 2015, she set a goal to collect 1000 books with Black female protagonists in three months and launched #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign. “I decided to start a campaign where Black girls are the main characters, and I think this is important because when you see someone you can relate to in a book, you’ll normally remember the things that they learn so then you can use them in your life to make your life better.” Using the power of social media, Marley’s book drive went viral and young readers across the globe wanted to participate. In February of 2017, Marley partnered with Scholastic and will publish a guide to youth activism. Her book will guide kids to utilizing the power to positively make change from volunteerism, social justice, to using social media for good.
Kimberly Bryant– Electrical engineer Kimberly Bryant is the founder of Black Girls Code a non-profit whose mission is to diversify and change the face of technology by exposing girls of color and in underrepresented communities to STEM. While there’s been much progress in racial politics, there’s still a need to close the intersection of the gender gap, and the racial gap in these fields. “When I was first introduced to computer programming, as a freshman in Electrical Engineering…I recall…feeling culturally isolated: few of my classmates looked like me. By launching Black Girls Code, I hope to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.”
Yara Shahidi – You may know Yara Shahidi as Zoey Johnson on black-ish and as the social activist who is outspoken on feminism and racial justice. Addressing President Trump’s executive order banning refugees from 7 countries including Iran where her dad is from, she posted on twitter, “I am the result of love. More specifically, Black and Iranian love, of a love that highlights how interconnected we truly are…Xenophobia destroys the power of love and our collective potential, it creates a false sense of security for some, and an environment of fear for others.”
Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey- Franchesca Ramsey, also known as Chescaleigh is a social activist, a writer and a comedian. In 2012, she first made herself known on social media when she turned a YouTube meme into a lasting global conversation about things people casually say to Black women that unintentionally marginalize them. She is the host of MTV’s Web series, Decoded, a platform which discusses the intersections of feminism, race, and things that aren’t always comfortable to discuss in a positive and comedic way. “Feminism has helped me better express and stand up for myself and others. I think many of today’s feminists are working to be more intersectional and acknowledge that there are people from all walks of life who need feminism.”
Written by Stephanie Younger, a 14 year old black student, aspiring computer programmer, poet, writer and a Central Virginia based activist