amandla stenberg on the radical power of the internet

"I feel like there are so many more people who are trying to learn than there are people who are closed-minded. At least I hope so."

by Hannah Ongley
Feb 24 2016, 3:53pm

Amandla Stenberg probably wouldn't call herself The Voice of a Generation — besides being exquisitely gracious, she has enough job titles on her resume already. But no doubt she has a way of expressing things — whether they're script lines or eloquent condemnations of cultural appropriation — that makes people shut up and listen. In recent chat with ASOS, Stenberg discusses her enviable intersectional feminist girl squad, her involvement with internet-based Art Hoe collective, and her upcoming career moves. She also talks about the language of a generation — i.e. the internet — and how it helped her empower people who have suffered oppression because of their race, gender, or both. 

"I've always been passionate about social justice and creating representation for people who are under-represented," she continues. "But now I'm able to express my opinion on a public platform. I used to be too scared to do it and it is scary, but it's worth it. The internet has made it possible to synthesize ideas into things that are shareable for people who don't want to read [US author, feminist and social activist] bell hooks."

One of the web-based safe spaces she's given a lot of attention to is Art Hoe, founded by her online buddies Mars and Jam, which gives a platform to all young creatives of color. "People submit music, poetry, diary entries, very personal things, which have to do with learning to accept themselves," she explains. "When you see other people being comfortable with their identity when society has told them not to be, it inspires you to feel the same way."

Stenberg goes on to address the criticism she's faced, due to people being ignorant and/or just the worst, for being vocal in her support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

"When I say 'black lives matter,'" she explains in what is probably an extremely tired yet kind voice, "I'm not saying white lives don't, I'm just saying that this is a group of people that has been systematically repressed for generations so it's necessary to shed light on it to undo those wounds. Some people think that it's trying to exclude white people, but that's not the point. The point is to uplift voices that have been silenced and that's a problem in the way we're treating race." 

"Celebrating people of color and oppressed groups does not equate to the slander of white people, and yet the way that people respond to it is, 'You're being racist! Reverse racism!' But honestly, I feel like there are so many more people who are trying to learn than there are people who are closed-minded. At least I hope so."


Text Hannah Ongley 
Image via Instagram

Black Lives Matter
Amandla stenberg
intersectional feminism
Art Hoe