If you believe the children are our future, then you will be thrilled to see Teen Vogue cover girl Amandla Stenberg speaking so brilliantly about being an out and proud black bisexual woman. The Hunger Games star hosted a takeover of the magazine’s SnapChat where she came out and spoke about identity and the other women like Solange Knowles (who interviewed the star for the magazine’s January issue) and Ava Duvernay who have inspired her in being herself.
“I cannot stress enough how important representation is, so the concept that I can provide for other black girls is mind-blowing. It’s a really really hard thing to be silenced, and it’s deeply bruising to fight against your identity and just mold yourself into shapes that you just shouldn’t be in,” she says in the video. “As someone who identifies as a black bisexual woman, I’ve been through it, and it hurts and it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable. But then I realized, because of Solange and Ava Duvernay and Willow [Smith] and all the black girls watching this right now, there’s absolutely nothing but change. We cannot be suppressed. We are meant to express our joy and our love and our tears, to be big and bold and definitely not easy to swallow. I definitely believe in the concept of rebellion through selfhood, and rebellion through embracing your true identity, no matter what you’re being told. Here I am, being myself, and it’s hard and vulnerable, and it’s definitely a process, but I’m learning and growing. Thank you for supporting me and doing this, and thank you to Teen Vogue. This is just the beginning, though; we have a lot of work to do for all women of color. We need more representation in film and television. We need our voices to be louder in the media. And not just women of color—bisexual women, gay women, transgender women, mentally ill women. I’m sick of all the misogyny and homophobia and transphobia that I see around me, and I know you are too. Thank you for listening and goodnight.”
This is especially powerful coming from someone so young (17!). There are still so few public figures that are both black women and out, and Amandla talking about intersectionality is certainly something to be celebrated. Young women that are fans of her work will be inspired by her words and actions, just as we are today.
“I think that as a black girl you grow up internalizing all these messages that say you shouldn’t accept your hair or your skin tone or your natural features, or that you shouldn’t have a voice, or that you aren’t smart,” Amandla told Teen Vogue. “I feel like the only way to fight that is to just be yourself on the most genuine level and to connect with other black girls who are awakening and realizing that they’ve been trying to conform.”
via Teen Vogue
Next up for Amandla, the film As You Are, where she plays a young girl whose friendship group is the focus of a police investigation in the early 1990s.
Follow Amandla on Twitter: @amandlastenberg