Let’s be real: the way we use Instagram today is far more influential than the way it was intended to be used. What started off as a yet another photo sharing application has now become a revolutionary method of communication. Instagram is our generation’s virtual megaphone—a phenomenal platform that allows each and every one of its 500 million daily active users to share, inform and debate trending topics.
With Instagram, people like me, who like to keep up with what’s happening around the world, can be informed quickly and easily by following accounts that report the news. A majority of these accounts are teen activist accounts, which have started to pop up more and more frequently on Instagram in recent years. But informing their followers of what is going on in the world is just one of the many duties that they fulfill with their accounts. The teen activists also get to discuss their own opinions on controversial topics, share what positive changes they are bringing to their own communities, and bring light to daily injustices that are not talked about as often,
Two notable teen activists accounts are @everydayblackgirl, who has over sixty-thousand followers, and @intersectional.femme, who has over ninety-thousand followers, and they have amassed their large audiences at only fourteen and seventeen years old, respectively. Scrolling through both of their Instagram feeds, you’ll find hundreds of posts highlighting current issues that our generation faces like misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, police brutality, gun control, body image, culture appropriation, beauty standards, rape culture, and many more.
These two accounts embody the meaning of tireless advocacy. Through every daily post, caption, like and comment, they are fighting for those who cannot fight, speaking for those who do not have a voice, and bringing light to issues that have been left in the dark for far too long. They are progressively ridding our world of violence and injustice, and sowing peace and justice in its place. They are influential leaders and activists, proving to the world that activism is not about how old you are but rather about the passion and drive you have towards your cause.
Intrigued and amazed by these young activists, I reached out to them to learn more about how their Instagram accounts go hand in hand with their activism. Here were their responses:
When did you create your account and why?
Courtney (@everydayblackgirl): My platform, “everydayblackgirl,” was born on May 8, 2015, when I was only 11 years old. When I first started my page, it was just for fun, however when I did start it, activism and black liberation were two of my many interests. As time progressed, my platform turned into a safe and educational space where marginalized groups, more specifically black women, could speak and carry out conversations that mean the most to them without outside interruption or resentment.
Alejandra (@intersectional.femme): I believe I started my account around February of last year, I wanted to have a place to voice my opinion and talk about issues. After the 2016 election, I felt like there was no hope for humanity and like others, I was mad about the election. I felt a sense of responsibility, I felt like I needed to help, so I told myself I would try to inform people about political issues—especially kids my age. That way I could help kids my age understand it better.
Did you expect your account to grow this big initially?
Courtney: Coming into the online activism world, I had no idea how many people I would impact. I wasn’t anticipating on having over 60k followers. The growth of my platform grew rapidly, which led to various opportunities, just like this one! Thanks Alexis!
Alejandra: Never in a million years. My goal was 10k, I remember telling myself that
What subjects that you post about on your account are you most passionate about?
Courtney: Some of the main topics I talk about are intersectional feminism and of course issues pertaining to black people as a whole, such as police brutality and institutional/systemic racism. I believe it’s very important to talk about these subjects with my audience, especially with our nation’s current political and social climate.
Alejandra: I post the truth. I post what the news doesn’t want you to know. I like to say I post facts. Many news outlets don’t talk seriously on police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, etc. I like talking about stuff that tends to be ignored.
What makes your account unique?
Courtney: What makes my account so unique is the fact that I’m so young and I try my very hardest to represent my generation, Gen Z, the best I can on a daily basis!
Alejandra: I guess the way I am and the way I show my personality and I speak up about these issues. I guess people like that.
How do you engage with your followers?
Courtney: I engage with my followers by not only responding to comments, I also keep my DMs open and answer every single one of them. I’m a very humble person and I believe in helping others no matter if they’re asking for advice or if they have a question on something I posted. Interaction like that helps me feel more engaged and involved in my online community. I have open arms when it comes to helping others, even through the Internet!
Alejandra: When I’m not busy, as I am right now in my junior year, I love talking to my followers. I like being there for them and listening to what they have to say.
Do you feel like Instagram is an easy platform to be an activist on?
Courtney: Social media is definitely the new wave for activism, especially among teenagers. Being able to reach hundreds, thousands and even millions of people all at once is such a progressive move for not only the growth of any activist platform, but also for spreading the word on things that matter the most!
Alejandra: Teens! Teens! My audience that I speak to are teens! That’s who I want to influence right now because we are the future. We love social media, because it helps you connect with people and share your ideas. I really don’t think there is any other way that works better, because having news given out to you on Instagram sounds pretty cool. And I guess it really makes you involved, because you know what’s going on.
What is the best and worst thing about having an teen activist account on Instagram?
Courtney: One of the worst things about having an activism platform on Instagram at such a young age, is the fact that many discredit your knowledge on “complex” issues. Being 14, many do not expect me to know all that I know and speak the way that I speak. However, one of the best things about having my platform right now is the fact that I can connect with thousands of kids my age that share my interests. It’s such a heartwarming thing and it keeps me hopeful for the future!
Alejandra: The best thing about it is getting to see the impact you make on people. It’s such a nice feeling. And for the worst, I’ll have to say the ignorant people who just say stuff that makes no sense.
How do you respond to critics and how do you respond to trolls?
Courtney: I don’t respond to hate. I never have time for negativity, especially since my platform is considered a safe space. I’m the queen of the block button, however if the critic is willing to have a constructive argument/debate and is willing to both listen and learn, I’m here for it!
Alejandra: I don’t — once in a while, I clap back but I don’t like doing that since they are a waste of time.
What difference do you feel like you have made with your account?
Courtney: One of the differences I think I have made with my platform is making my people realize that our voices are not only valid, but are powerful. The only thing stopping us is us. We have to continue to break down barriers that have prohibited us from reaching our full potential all these years. The time is now!
Alejandra: I think I have helped a lot of people open their eyes and see what’s actually going on.
What do you want people to take away from your Instagram account?
Courtney: One of the many things I’d like people to take away from my account is the passion and work I put into my platform and my activism. By following me and learning from me I hope I can inspire others, especially those within my generation to pursue a profession in one of the best jobs ever, activism!
Alejandra: When someone visits my account, I want them to have a “moment” to think about the stuff happening. I want them to realize that stuff is happening out there and we need to do something to stop it.