VOICES OF THE OPPRESSED

Picture these scenes for a moment. An innocent African-American adolescent lying dead on the pavement after being shot for holding a BB gun. An 18-year-old Pakistani girl, whose face got heavily disfigured after trying to escape from sex slavery and human trafficking for $12,800 by ISIS. A young Indonesian girl, getting raped by approximately 19 men, could not even let out a squeak for help as she was too paralyzed to do so. An unconscious college girl being raped behind the dumpster, only to see her rapist getting a 4-months sentence from the court. An immigrant from China living in UK, who faced horror of losing her job and all of her future prospects after Brexit happened. North Korea youngsters trying to escape from their reclusive regime, under the threats of never making it out alive.

Close your eyes, contemplate about those moments for a while. Do you feel resentment? Indignation? Sympathy? A sudden urge to make alterations?

As young adults/teenagers, we often feel helpless when offered such complex social and political flaws. Unfortunately, most of us do not have the money and other resources to directly help those who got inflicted by global adversities. However, with the assistance of advanced technology (social media), everyone is able to acknowledge and act on social problems directly from their phones/computers.

Social media, when used righteously, can be a platform to increase awareness, regarding social calamities, among teenagers. Several archetypes of teenagers who blatantly voice out their relevant concerns are Amandla Stenberg and Mina Hill.

Even though she is only 17 years old, Amandla presents herself as both an activist and a feminist, merely through her social media (Instagram, Twitter, et cetera). Fully aware that she has attracted a massive amount of followers, Amandla uses social media to educate the youth about cultural appropriation, feminism, and #BlackLivesMatter movement. Amandla also passionately shares donation links which advocate black community under the prejudiced conducts of U.S police officers. Despite being a minority, Amandla—a 17 year old African American girl—is able to produce change with the assistance of social media. Amandla’s ardent actions eventually allow her to educate more adolescents by being invited to speak at NYU forums.

“Racism is still alive and flourishing. It is often subconscious, it’s the way we treat each other and the assumptions we make without thinking.” -Amandla Stenberg

Mina Hill, a 19 year old Pakistani girl living in New York, showcases her blatant opinions and flawed body figure (with stretch marks and all) on her Instagram and Twitter. Mina voices out her concerns regarding violence on women, under-age prostitution, and human trafficking that keep happening, especially throughout East Asia countries. Being a Moslem living in the States, Mina comprehends the racist remarks of terrorism that gravitate towards the minor community. Through her platform, Mina educates her followers on her beloved religion; she perpetually emphasizes that the teaching of Islam does not condone terrorist acts (ISIS, Al-Qaeda, et cetera). Therefore, Mina believes that it is genuinely biased to assume all Moslems as terrorists. In addition to her passionate defense of Islam, Mina also teaches her followers – mostly young girls – to love their bodies despite all of the imperfections. Having gone through a severe eating disorder when she was just 15, Mina understands how young women can have harmful ideas about their appearances. Mina insists her followers to nurture themselves with healthy food and education. Ultimately, Mina successfully delivers her message to thousands followers every day. Social media has also helped Mina gain acknowledgement from famous clothing brand and magazines, which supports Mina to keep voicing her concerns on contemporary and relevant subjects.

Image result for mina hill body confidence instagram
Mina’s body confidence post on her instagram

Somehow, some disdainful individuals would appear and ask questions which contradict the positive impact of having social media: “So, everyone can be an activist/feminist now?” My personal answer to that is—YES, everyone definitely can. It cannot be denied that adults sometimes disregard youngsters’ opinions solely due to their age. Nevertheless, the world rolls from crises to crises, and teenagers need a way to cope with it.

Growing up in a developing country like Indonesia, I had always assumed social media as a strategy to boost ones’ notoriety, or basically just to show affluence and vanity off. In the past, I thought the most privileged individuals were the only ones who could be prominent activists, voicing out their concerns in forums such as TED Talk. Not until I stumbled upon Amandla and Mina’s pages when I finally realized the powerful influence of social media.

When used correctly, social media has the outmost power to continuously educate and inform teenagers in a global range. Social media helps people to comprehend the actual pain and perspectives from less-privileged ethnicities/ individuals that experience afflictions.

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