You would be forgiven for thinking we live inside a huge, literal steaming pile of garbage. The American political landscape continues to grow increasingly frightening each day, as the world is forced to respond to an ever-increasing series of threats. From raging wildfires on the California coast to Europe recording its worst flooding in decades, environmental crises continue to rampage across the globe. And with police brutality and systemic racism across smultiple communities adding to this chaotic climate, times are extremely tough. So it would be easy to resign yourself to these discouraging realities, especially if you’re young. After all, young people are made fun of for every aspect of how we live. How could anyone really take us seriously if we tried to stand up for what we believe in?
But today's young people are no longer taking the guff from anyone—let alone the dinosaurs responsible for how they are living. While those dumpster fires rage on, the indomitable spirit of Gen-Z and younger millennials have made everyone take these matters seriously. Complex is excited to highlight these young voices who are advocating, fighting, and actively taking on the powers that be to stand up for what we all should believe in.
All it takes is one idea and the right mix of determination and willpower to effect change at the local level. Start with one thing you’re passionate about then find small, local ways to organize and find solutions to the problem. That’s what the 32 people on this list did—some starting at 6 years old. They’re here to prove that no matter the obstacle, and no matter your age, you can work hard to leave behind a world that is just a little better than when you found it.
Teens 4 Equality
At the 2018 Academy Awards ceremony, Common and Andra Day performed their Oscar-Nominated song “Stand Up For Something” with a group of activists behind them. The youngest was 8-year-old Bana Alabed, a Syrian refugee who took to Twitter to broadcast the nightmarish experience of living in Aleppo during the siege, airstrikes, and hunger. Her family was eventually able to escape to Turkey, but her experiences stuck with her and led her to write a book, Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace, which was released in October of last year. Bana’s childlike honesty and innocence adds a layer of urgency to the conflict in Syria and the refugee crisis that is hard to ignore; as she grows up, she will be someone to watch.