Do you remember New Years Day, glitter on the floor, a new decade, lists and promises that this was going to be our year? And it is, and it isn’t, and oh my god the tears that I’ve cried.
There have been a hundred lessons this year, and growing hurts. It’s like being 17 all over again, except we all are, and we’re in this together. I don’t know how to bridge from here to there – I’m still growing, still learning, still reading, still bleeding, still heartbroken. Even with the heroes of the past to light the way, I have found it is sometimes hard to find the heroes of today, people standing tall, people who are fighting just like we are. These are my personal modern day heroes & new ones are rising up every day.
Cleo Wade: poet, artist, activist, author. Cleo’s poems reverberate in my heart. They challenge me, understand me, speaking what I need to hear. And Cleo’s heart shines right through it all. She feels like a friend you could call. Cleo has a book called Heart Talk and a monthly email newsletter (more like a letter), that I absolutely love, I bet you would too.
Autumn Peltier: member of the Wiikwemkoong First Nation. Born in 2004, Autumn is the Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation and an advocate for clean water. She’s spoken at the UN General Assembly and was nominated for an International Children’s Peace Prize.
Rupi Kaur: Indian Canadian poet, illustrator, author. No matter the occasion, I can find a Rupi Kaur poem to break it down. I am a woman of emotions, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and to see Rupi spell it out in black and white is both discombobulating and reassuring.
Misty Copeland: ballerina. My daughter is a dancer, and Misty is someone I want her to look up to. The first African American woman to be promoted to principle dancer in the American Ballet Theatre history, she defied all odds by not starting ballet until she was 13.
Kate Kennedy: podcaster, entrepreneur, author. With long winded deep dives into a myriad of topics from pop culture to millennial interests to feminist and influencer subjects, Kate’s podcast Be There in Five is witty and hilarious but also so freaking smart. It’s genuinely like spending hours talking to your best girlfriend in the car or on the phone.
Hayley Kiyoko: musician, actress. Also known as Lesbian Jesus, Hayley Kiyoko is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Working to normalize lesbian relationships through her music and music videos, Hayley believes that representation is so important, especially in this heteronormative world. We need to see people who look like us, that love like us, that feel like us.
Bill Nye: the science guy. I grew up watching Bill Nye on TV, just to watch Bill Nye Saves The World on Netflix, to listen to his Science Rules! podcast. Bill Nye is a hero to me, constantly educating me in science, climate change, and especially now about coronavirus. He releases weekly podcast episodes about the pandemic that are factual and keep me calm while educating me.
Malala Yousafzai: Pakistani activist for female education, Nobel Prize laureate, human rights activist. From a young age, Malala had been so active in her fight for right of education. In an assassination attempt, she was shot in the head at the age of 15 by Taliban gunmen. She recovered and has gone on to continue to fight for the right of education and human rights.
Greta Thunberg: climate change activist. Greta is the force behind “School strike for climate” and gave her famous “how dare you” speech at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Greta inspires me, and shows us that anyone can change the world and every voice matters.
Halsey: singer, songwriter. I have so much respect for Halsey because she’s always trying to use her platform for good, to make sure her voice is heard. It’s so easy for stars to shut up when they reach a level of fame in order to maintain it, to not ruffle feathers, but that’s not Halsey’s way at all. She’s so human, and I believe she has such a good heart.
Mira Mariah: aka girlknewyork, NYC tattoo artist. Incredible illustrator, mother, amputee, and Ariana Grande’s tattoo artist, girlknewyork is one of my favourite Instagram follows. She always keeps it real, her art is freaking amazing, and she’s so inspiring. Nylon interview here.
Florence Given: British feminist, activist, illustrator, queer, author. Florence is always talking about sexuality, race, and gender. I’ve learned so much from watching her stories, and she’s the author of Women Don’t Owe You Pretty.
I remember Mr. Rogers said to look for the helpers. Look for the helpers, the leaders, the ones side by side with you fighting the good fight.
Please please please, follow through with the links that have been going around. Donate, diversify your feed, support BIPOC business, read books with BIPOC protagonists and representation, write letters, listen to BIPOC podcasts, teach your children, stand up and be unwaveringly anti-racist. Be kind, be soft, pick flowers and pick fights. Please.