Shining a Light on Black Women Activists Today

“When we look on the news, we see the white kids who are making a difference. And we the white kids who are speaking out, but then we see some of the same black and brown kids who are saying the exact same thing and are not getting any attention for it.” – Naomi Wadler

Naomi Wadler may be a 12-year-old child, but she is also a fierce activist fighting for gun control. She is very outspoken about gun violence and what she has seen with her own eyes, in terms of horrifically violent events as well as the disproportionate amount of support she receives as a Black girl. Naomi advocates for Black women and uses her voice to protest at anti-gun movements, most notably March for Our Lives held in Washington, D.C.    

Naomi is making a valuable difference in her community and the United States as a whole. She has spoken at many forums and summits, Elle magazine has interviewed her, and she even visited Ellen on her T.V. show. That being said, she finds herself constantly silenced and marginalized because she is an activist of color. She points out that for generations, Black and brown women have fought tirelessly for their voices to be heard, while white activists seemingly receive a megaphone and a platform with ease:

“There are so many young girls of color and women of color who have been working their entire lives fighting for their voices to be heard, knowing that they don’t have an equal chance at gaining that attention and getting that recognition,” – Naomi Wadler   

women fists raised in air Original Illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media

Black women and girls have always been involved with activism, but the media does not prefer to give equal amount of recognition to them due to bias and deeper prejudices. This lack of attention may be intersectional and complex, but something that the media must work harder on to make sure that all voices are heard. For example, Greta Thunberg has become one of the most prominent faces in the climate change movement. She rose to this position, and although she has faced many challenges and “haters” in her journey, she has never once been silenced because of the color of her skin.

For many generations, black and brown women have fought for climate change but never received the same global level of recognition. Recently, a young activist named Vanessa Nakate from Uganda was photographed at the World Economic Conference with four other young white activists, including Greta Thunberg. The Associated Press completely cropped Vanessa out of the photo, and she voiced in a video statement that, “It was the first time in my life that I understood the definition of the word ‘racism,’” (Vanessa Nakate). She was also completely excluded from the initial versions of the article that the AP released. This entire experience left her feeling “sad and worthless” and as if she “wasted [her] time at the press conference.” All of her feelings are valid, and it is such a shame that she was completely removed from the very movement she has been fighting for- and for years. The Associated Press claimed that it would work harder to include more diversity training for their staff and writers, but it takes more than just being informed about this issue.

It will take tangible action and effort, especially from the media, to ensure that women of color are heard, seen, and taken seriously when they are doing the exact same, if not better, work than their white colleagues.   

White smartphone with hearts Photo by Cristian Dina from Pexels         

“The media does a really great job at glorifying and putting white privileged kids, as you said, at the center of every movement.” – Naomi Wadler, aged 12. 

All quotes from Naomi Wadler are directly taken from the World Economic Forum footage. Naomi Wadler spoke on a panel and shared her thoughts. This event occurred on January 22, 2020. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvmFGBDIl6E

All quotes from Vanessa Nakate are taken from the CNN article linked below.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/30/africa/uganda-activist-vanessa-nakate-cropped-intl/index.html