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16th October 2019

Black History Month: Feminist and activist Amandla Stenberg

Writer Sam Bronheim celebrates actor Amandla Stenberg’s activism and social awareness as she uses her platform to raise awareness and promote discussions around racism and sexuality
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Black History Month: Feminist and activist Amandla Stenberg
Amandla Stenberg photo: Gage Skidmore @flickr

Amandla Stenberg has been a familiar name in the media for a while now. Her role as Rue in The Hunger Games shot her to stardom but, more recently, it’s her forward-thinking views that have made her an icon.

At only 20 years old, Stenberg has been able to balance acting and activism. She has recently starred in The Hate U Give and Where Hands Touch (both 2018), which both address racial issues. The latter explores the struggles of a young bi-racial girl living under the totalitarian Nazi-Germany regime and highlights important historical aspects of racism that are still relevant today. The Hate U Give follows the repercussions of a shooting on the already strained balance between a poor, black neighbourhood and a richer, white one. Getting involved with projects that are centred around racial problems allows her to be a crucial voice for them – especially when it comes to enlightening young people.

However, Stenberg’s attention to these matters is not restricted to Hollywood. In 2015 she released a YouTube video titled ‘Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows’, a powerful statement confronting the controversy of black cultural appropriation, targeting white pop stars in particular. She closes the video with a now iconic quote: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”

That same year she was named Feminist Celebrity of 2015 by the Ms. Foundation and the Most Influential Teen by Time magazine – all by the age of 16! What Stenberg does above all else through her activism is make young girls feel comfortable with who they are, and being outspoken and vocal on issues regarding equality in culture, gender and sexuality is essential to this. Amandla Stenberg believes both gender and sexuality are fluid and is very open about her own journey navigating both of these. She told Vogue in 2017 that she doesn’t “think of [herself] as statically a girl” and often questions whether gender exists at all.

It’s obvious that Amandla Stenberg is a force to be reckoned with. Currently she is studying filmmaking at New York University and has hopes of creating films that are more representative of women of colour.

One thing is for sure, Stenberg will keep on fighting for equality. If you aren’t talking about her already, it’s time to.

Sam Bronheim

Sam Bronheim

Co-Science Editor

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