Amandla Stenberg: My Black History Month icon
by Angelica Mann
Amandla Stenberg, 18, is an African-American actress, best known for their role as Rue in The Hunger Games.
They were listed as one of the most influential teens of 2016 by Time Magazine and is one of my generation’s leading social activists regarding race, representation and gender identity.
Like me, Stenberg identifies as “non-binary” which is a gender identity like male, female or transgender, except you are none of those things; you identify outside the gender binary.
I appreciate seeing someone publicly identifying as non-binary in the African-American community.
“I don’t feel afraid to talk about racism or to talk about sexism or the gender binary because I feel like it’s important and necessary and that importance outweighs any potential backlash I can receive,” Stenberg said in an interview with Elle Magazine.
Among many other honors, in 2015, they were named feminist of the year alongside Disney Channel’s Rowan Blanchard. They are a huge advocate for girls joining the S.T.E.M. program and the Black Lives Matter movement.
In an interview with Teen Vogue, they talked about their controversial video Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows.
“As a black (girl) you grow up internalizing all these messages that say you shouldn’t accept your hair or your skin tone, or your natural features, or you shouldn’t have a voice or you shouldn’t be smart.”
Stenberg spoke about how certain hairstyles are cultural, and when they learned to embrace their natural curls, they felt more themselves.
However, when they got cast in The Hunger Games, they got called the n-word and told the death of their character would be less sad because they were black. They feel they are often cast as the token black person.
In the interview, they mentioned it used to be the only way black people got representation was through TV. Now, we have social media changing the game; you can go on Instagram and see a black/mixed girl who’s totally killing it with natural hair, who hasn’t been whitewashed and just totally free to express herself.
In fact, Beyonce even referred to them saying she wants her daughter Blue Ivy to be just like them.
People like Stenberg unapologetically voice their opinions on Tumblr and Twitter left and right.
It’s very beautiful. They also talked about their new comic book “Niobe is life,” which is the first ever comic book written by a black girl, starring a black girl and illustrated by a black girl.
I look up to them a lot. They have influenced me and given me the confidence to be more myself and accept myself more.
The Gayly. February 12, 2018. 9:04 a.m. CST.