#FridayFive: Five Female Activists to Follow

Friday Five

What a year it’s been already, and we’re not even halfway through. This week I spent a lot of my time reading, learning and re-sharing posts about racism, inequality and police brutality on my social feeds. A lot of my time has been spent signing petitions and emailing my local MP (with no response).

Being vocal on my social feeds and sharing the posts of other women and people of colour (POC) around me has awoken a new hunger in me. I want to do something about the social and racial injustice that people in America and the wider world, face.

It astounds me as to how much ignorance is out there, how much hate, racism and bigotry people can possess.

I remember watching the video of Eric Garner pleading for his life, telling police officers he couldn’t breathe. I remember feeling so angry that this could be recorded for the world to see, and no justice prevail.

I remember watching When They See Us on Netflix, and in particular, the interview the real Central Park 5 had with Oprah. I cried a lot (and I’m not a crier) and I just couldn’t believe that these men had been sentenced to so many years in jail for something that they didn’t do. I remember feeling sick that this could happen and then I started to question how many other times this had happened and that we were unaware of.

I remember watching Just Mercy, the movie starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, and once again, feeling outraged at the number of Black people behind bars in this country and that 1 in 25 people on death row are actually innocent. 1 in 25. Is justice really being served in this country?

What happened to George Floyd was the breaking point for me. I had sat around and done nothing for too long. It was time I spoke up and joined in the fight to end racial inequality and help in the #BlackLivesMatter campaign.

In light of this, I created a blog post full of resources (books, TV shows, movies, petitions, websites and donating funds) that you can find here. I also want to highlight not five, but ten female activists that I follow on Instagram and Twitter.

1. GINA MARTIN – @GINAMARTIN

I’ve been following Gina for quite a few years now and watched her from beginning to end, making ‘upskirting’ illegal in the UK.

At a festival, Gina was violated by a guy taking a photo underneath her skirt, and after talking to police at the festival, they said it was out of their hands as doing so isn’t actually illegal. With some help, Gina was able to pass upskirting as a criminal offence in the house of commons.

Today, Gina is a full-time campaigner, contributor to BBC Radio 5 Live and an advocate of UN Women UK.

2. GRETA THUNBERG – @GRETATHUNBERG

Greta Thunberg shouldn’t need any introduction. A climate change activist that has the whole world listening and talking, taking on one political leader at a time.

At only 16 years of age, Greta sailed around the world to different cities, showing a way of lowering her carbon footprint while also stopping off to lead climate change marches and inspire everyone around her to care more about the world they live in.

I’m sure Greta is more than happy that we are all now working from home, not driving on the roads as much, there are less planes in the air, less people dumping plastic into the ocean and that due to COVID-19, we have successfully slowed down the impact of climate change, if only by a fraction.

3. RACHEL CARGLE @RACHEL.CARGLE

I’ve recently started Rachel’s 30-day #DoTheWork course to learn more about racism and inequality. There is no more crucial time than right now to educate yourself on racism, oppression and the unjust actions of the police force in America.

Rachel is a public academic, writer, and lecturer. Her activism and academic work provide intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood.

Her writing has featured in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Harpers Bazaar and Rachel has also given her own TED Talk.

4. AMAL AZZUDIN

Amal Azzudin is a 30-year-old Egyptian-Scottish campaigner and activist, who co-founded the Glasgow Girls, a group of seven young women who campaigned against the harsh treatment of asylum-seekers in response to the detention of one of their friends.

The Glasgow Girls campaigned on behalf of their friend’s family; their online petitions going viral. The First Minister of Scotland agreed to meet with them and the girls successfully prevented the deportation of the Murselaj family and also forced a change in the asylum protocols.

Since then, Amal has worked for the Mental Health Foundation in Scotland as Equality and Human Rights Officer. She is also an ambassador for the Scottish Refugee Council.

5. AUSTIN CHANNING BROWN – @AUSTINCHANNING

Austin Channing Brown is said to be one of the most important voices in America today. The media producer, author and speaker provides inspired leadership on racial justice in America.

Austin is the author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, a book that Shondaland said is a ‘deeply personal celebration of blackness that simultaneously sheds new light on racial injustice and inequality while offering hope for a better future.’

Austin provides workshops in racial justice, and shares the experiences of Black women, helping to deepen the understanding and need to fight racial inequality.

6. MICHELLE SAAHENE – @MICHELLESAAHENE

Michelle Saahene is the co-founder of From Privilege to Progress (P2P), a national movement to desegregate the public conversation about race. P2P calls on all Americans to join on the path to antiracism by learning, speaking up in their everyday lives and amplifying the voices of people of colour on social media.

Michelle witnessed the arrest of two innocent black men in a Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia, as the two men chose not to buy coffee. Michelle spoke up for these two men, while Melissa DePino, a white woman also present in Starbucks at the time, videoed the encounter and uploaded it to Twitter.

The video went viral and the two women decided to meet and since founded P2P.

Michelle continues to speak out about racism through social media campaigns and as a public speaker, in order to create awareness and inspire action toward racial justice.

7. IRENE WAKEFIELD – @WAKEFIELDIRENE

Irene Wakefield is the founder of Prepair NZ, an organisation to help those that have experienced emotional and physical abuse.

Experiencing abusive relationships first-hand, Irene founded her organization and travels across New Zealand giving young women access to education about relationships and early stage abuse.

8. ELAINE WELTEROTH @ELAINEWELTEROTH

Elaine Welteroth is an American journalist, editor and New York Times best-selling author. In 2016, Elaine became editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue at age 29 and was only the second person of African-American heritage to hold the title in Conde Nast history.

Elaine is credited for making Teen Vogue ‘woke’, by increasing Teen Vogue’s coverage of politics and social justice, encouraging readers to become civically engaged, specifically during the 2016 US presidential election.

Elaine is also the author of More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (which is on my goodreads reading list) with a foreword written by acclaimed director Ava DuVernay.

9. NADYA OKAMOTO – @NADYAOKAMOTO

Nadya Okamoto founded PERIOD when she was just 16-years-old, an organisation that demands an end to period poverty and stigma. Now 22 and studying a student at Harvard, she recently published her debut book, Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement.

Nadya is also featured in Forbes’s 30 Under 30, Bloomberg’s 50 ‘One’s to Watch’ and People Magazine’s Women Changing the World. Not bad, eh?

In 2017, Nadya ran for public office in Cambridge, Massachusetts at age 19, making her the youngest Asian-American to run in US history.

Sign this petition to support emergency grants for period supplies!

10. ARANYA JOHAR – @ARANYAJOHAR

Aranya Johar is a 21-year-old Indian poet and feminist, fighting for gender equality, mental health and body positivity by using slam poetry.

Aranya’s first piece titled, ‘A Brown Girl’s Guide to Gender’ became a viral sensation, hitting one million views in two days.

Also a TED Talk speaker, Aranya features in a list of 10 women to follow on social media alongside Michelle Obama and Ashley Graham and has spoken at events that also featured Melinda and Bill Gates, Stephen Fry and more.

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