FEMINIST FRIDAY: Black Girl Magic Edition With Artist Andra Day And Activist Zuriel Oduwole

Welcome to another edition of Feminist Friday, our regular column where we share a handful of our favorite videos of the week. We also started this series as a way to share and expand on our definition of feminism, which is unapologetically intersectional. This week’s Feminist Friday is all about #BlackGirlMagic, featuring not just a celebrity but also the work of some badass young women of color who are raising their voices in a powerful way to inspire others in their community.

First up, we can’t get enough of this Youtube channel called Chocolate Chips Media. While there is so much negativity on the internet, especially in the comments section on Youtube, it’s encouraging to see content creators putting out some much-needed positivity and inspiration, especially for underrepresented girls. That was exactly the mission of Chocolate Chips Media creator Nina Shelton.

“It started when I took up the challenge to find the positive videos. I was teaching in a classroom with beautiful brown skin girls, hungry for affirmation. I told them how I felt, but I knew they would really take it to heart if they heard from someone closer to their own age. So, while they were at lunch, I searched and searched and came up empty handed. The searched continued for months. I finally pulled out my Samsung phone and began to record girls in the community. We have nine videos and hope to make more,” she told us in an email.

Nina has launched a Kickstarter campaign in the hope she can raise funds to buy professional camera equipment and keep the empowering videos coming.

“I’ve worked for Sesame Street, as well as programming for Disney, Cartoon Network and other PBS shows. I know how important it is to offer diversity for kids. But it wasn’t until I was in the classroom, witnessing how videos were being used, and seeing firsthand the impact, and then I saw what was sorely lacking,” she added.

You can get a glimpse of the mission of Chocolate Chips Media channel where you’ll find videos featuring young girls speaking out and empowering other girls to stand up for themselves, be confident, and to live with compassion and empathy.

The second video features another young woman of color who has already been featured on GirltalkHQ in the past. Zuriel Oduwole, 15, based in Los Angeles, made headlines for her passion for filmmaking and creating content. She has been interviewing leaders and politicians since the age of 9. In fact, she has managed to sit down with 24 presidents and prime ministers, talking to them about the topic she cares about – education for girls in Africa.

She has been compared to Malala Yousafzai by Yahoo News, and recently spoke to AFP about her trip to Paris to speak to a crowd of youth at a recent solidarity concert, where she explained why she wants to help girls escape poverty, child marriage and instead pursue an education.

Although Zuriel was born in the US, her parents are of Nigerian and Mauritian origin so she has direct ties to issues concerning girls in Africa.

“I want you all to imagine your girl cousin… being married when she is 12 or 13 years old to a man who is 10 or even 20 years older than she is. But guess what? Most of these problems are because of poverty,” she told the crowd.

According to UNICEF, around 39% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before the age of 18, and 12% before their 15th birthday. Zuriel told AFP this is the reasons she speaks with African leaders about “making policies so that girls are able to go to school until at least the age of 18 so they don’t get married when they are 12 or 13”. She may have interviewed inspirational figures such as Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female president, but Zuriel is a revolutionary figure and role model for young black women today:

Our final video this week is Andra Day’s music video for her cover of Billie Holiday’s iconic song ‘Strange Fruit’. Andra made this version in collaboration with Google and the Equal Justice Initiative, in order to use her artist platform to open a dialog about racial justice.

“Billie Holiday is one of the greatest inspirations for what I do now. She used her music as her platform and her voice to speak for people who were not able to speak for themselves…I am equally inspired by the work of [Founder/Executive Director] Bryan Stevenson and EJI, and I hope this song ignites new conversations about the connection between our past and present,” she told Billboard.com in a statement.

The song, which is a graphic reference to the lynching of African Americans, has been sampled and covered by many artists over the years. In Andra’s version, the video features statistics and quotes supplied by the EJI to remind fans and viewers how systemic racism hasn’t completely disappeared, it has simply morphed into other areas of society where black and brown people are disproportionately affected.

These include mass incarceration, stop and frisk, the “war on drugs”, and voter suppression just to name a few. We highly recommend watching Ava DuVernay’s ‘The 13th’ documentary on Netflix to learn more about this issue.

“Inspired music has the power to expose and confront injustice differently than research, data and words alone. It can heal and uplift us, it’s critical for human rights. Justice work needs a soundtrack that inspires the struggle, it’s energizing that talented artists like Andra rise to the challenge,” said Bryan Stephenson about working with Andra.

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