What Black Lives Matter Activist Nupol Kiazolu Wants you to Know About Womanism

The case of Trayvon Martin ignited a fire within then 12-year-old Nupol Kiazolu that she’s never felt before. “I couldn’t fully articulate how I felt at the time, but I knew I was angry.” Her first form of activism was when she showed up to school with a grey hoodie on, skittles and iced tea, and a message taped to her back that read, “Do I look Suspicious?”

“I faced so much opposition from the staff! I was about to get suspended, but I was determined to raise awareness about his death and get this message across,” Nupol tells Black Feminist Collective. When she refused to take her hoodie off, she was sent to the principal’s office, on the verge of school suspension. The only person who supported Nupol was her math teacher who put her job on the line by standing with Trayvon.  “My math teacher was so angry that she came right along with me with her hoodie on, risking her job. I stood my ground and knew in my heart that I could do this.”

Instead of suspending Nupol, her principal told her go home, do her research and to come back the next school day with her “case” explaining her rights as a student and why she shouldn’t be suspended. “After doing hours of research, printing out numerous papers stating my rights as a student, I won and he let me keep my hoodie on. He taught me such a valuable lesson, and I appreciate him so much.” The moment Nupol realized being a civil rights activist was her calling was when almost every Black student was wearing a grey hoodie with the same message taped to their backs. “My teacher and I were so shocked, we started crying tears of joy.”

Now at age 18, and being the president of the Black Lives Matter of Greater New York Youth Coalition, she has been recognized by Women in the World, DoSomething.Org, and Teen Vogue, with her fellow honoree, Naomi Wadler who spoke at the March For Our Lives about how Black girls are affected by gun violence at disproportionate rates. “It’s very humbling [to know that she looks up to me]. I have so much love for her. She’s literally a reflection of me when I was younger; Super bold and fearless. I look forward to growing with her and helping her through this journey.”

Similar to Naomi Wadler’s advocacy for Black girls, Nupol advocates for the Womanist movement, coined by Alice Walker and ignited by the colonization of feminism. “White feminists have always been at the forefront of feminism while using Black/WOC as stepping stones/props. Black Women created this movement as a safe space for Black women/WOC and to advance us in society as well.”

As an activist dedicated to empowering young people of color, Black youth empowerment is extremely important to Nupol. She takes her role as a leader in the movement very seriously. Every young Black person in the field of social justice inspires her everyday. “Our voices are often overlooked although we’re always on the ground putting our bodies on the line! Young Black people have carried the movement. Without us, there’d be no movement. You’re never too young to stand up for what’s right! Don’t ever let the phrase “you’re too young” hold you back from anything you set your mind to.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s