Using the Platforms I Have to Create Change
Hafeezat, 20, lives in New Jersey, where she is a college senior and active in local issues. She has a YouTube channel called, As Told By Hafeezat, and works with peers to capture stories and organize around gender equality and Black issues.
How would you describe yourself as a changemaker?
I used to say I was a “novice advocate” because I was just getting into the field, but now I like to consider myself more so an advocate than activist. I feel as if activism is a lot of on-the-ground work, whereas anyone can advocate for social justice issues from pretty much anywhere. I like to use the platforms I have, no matter how small, in order to do that.
How did you get started in change-making?
For me, it all started when Trayvon Martin was murdered. I realized that the world wasn’t as kind as I thought it was, which forced me to be more active in consuming the news and learning about our systems. Fast forward to high school: being in a majority white and Asian school made me more outspoken about Black issues and issues of other marginalized identities. It started on Snapchat and now has manifested on my Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channels. And in my life.
What issues are you most passionate about?
I push very hard for accurate Black representation in the media, and I would like Black people behind these stories, too. Whether it’s news stories, print journalism, or fictional shows, I want to see more of us on the screen and behind the scenes. I want stories of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) to be amplified, and in the ways we choose for them to be.
Besides that, I am very vocal about police brutality, systemic racism and global issues that are the result of European colonialism.
What work are you most proud of?
As of today, I am most proud of my documentary, Misogynoir [note: misogynoir is defined as the specific hatred, dislike, distrust, and prejudice directed toward Black women1). It was the first big project I ever created and it came from my mind and heart. It started getting more traction this summer and to see the positive responses to it has been so heartwarming.
Tell us about Misogynoir – how did you get the idea and what was it like to create it?
The idea for the video, Misogynoir: It’s Past and Present came to me at 2 AM one day in December 2019. I was scrolling through Twitter and was seeing a lot of vitriol being directed towards Teyana Taylor and Ari Lennox for their physical features. Two prominent Black women in the music industry were being likened to dogs simply because they have strong, Afro-centric features.
It got me thinking, why don’t I share the stories of young Black women about their experiences with misogynoir? Because unfortunately, for most of us, it is a familiar experience.
So I did a casting call, interviewed some people, gathered resources to get the stock video and music, created all the graphics in Canva, and boom: a mini documentary!
What do you want other young people to know about engaging in change?
There is space for everyone as long as your heart and actions are in the right place. Activism is not a means for you to make money, or to get clout. Activism is work that often goes unrecognized but creates lasting impacts in society.
1. Source: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/misogynoir
How do you make time for what you care about in your schedule?
It’s hard! I try to cement my school schedule and then work around it to do the things I love. This year, I purposefully left my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays wide open for me to have time for my internships and content creation. Sometimes I get lazy and then I do work at midnight. My goal is to set some sort of office hours for my non-creative work so I have a more rigid schedule I can hold myself accountable to. It’s a work in progress.
What’s next for you?
I’d love to do a follow up on the mini documentary, Misogynoir, this time with older Black women to see how it has passed through generations.
Right now I’m just trying to graduate. “Zoom university” is not an easy feat and I have a short attention span, but, for the most part, I’m doing well.
Outside of school, I’ve collected a list of YouTube video ideas for the next couple of months and I can’t wait to roll those out, because consistency has always been difficult for me.
How do you self care?
Sleep. I love to sleep. I also really love getting lost in lifestyle, art studio YouTube videos. They’re so calming. And if I have the ability, I sometimes skip my classes in order to have a day free to myself. I worry about work later and while it does create slight panic, I focus on the present rather than the future.
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