Over the course of the last few years, we’ve seen just how much activists can achieve, and it’s no secret that the heart of Gen Z has been on display in just about every political issue. The generational group has made enormous strides in activism and has shown that they’re simply not going to wait for political leaders to enforce change. Instead, youth activists insist on taking matters into their own hands. Whether it be sharing an informational Instagram graphic or marching for Black lives, Gen Z is demanding change from brands, politicians and even celebrities. My fellow Gen Z’ers know that not taking a stand makes you complicit in maintaining the status quo, and they’re using their voices to enact change, now. In honor of Latinx Hispanic Heritage Month, which kicked off on September 15 and lasts until October 15, we’re highlighting some of the most inspiring, courageous and badass Gen z Instagram creators using their platform for good.
Quick history lesson: The reason Latinx Hispanic Heritage Month starts in mid-September is because the 16th is the anniversary of El Grito de Dolores (1810), marking the start of the 11year Mexican War of Independence that resulted in the independence of the New Spain Colony (now known as Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua) in 1821. Leave it to us Latinos to shake things up and add a little bit of ~spice~ to the way we celebrate our heritage month!
The Latinx community has a long history of fiercely advocating for solutions. From civil rights to social issues to climate change, the fight never stops. And with our livelihood on the line, these changemakers won’t be stopping anytime soon. La lucha sigue. Below are 10 Latinx and Hispanic activists that deserve your follow and support today.
For Sara Mora, her advocacy is more than personal. Born in Costa Rica, Sara immigrated to the United States with her family when she was just three years old. As an undocumented teenager in New Jersey, she joined the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). In 2017, Sara—along with so many DACA recipients—was left to scramble when the White House proposed an end to the program.
Flash forward to today, Sara is a leading voice in the fight for immigrants’ rights and is the co-president of Women’s March Youth Empower. On Instagram, Sara is a digital storyteller and uses her influence to empower younger generations to get involved in politics and is breaking down the stigma of what it means to be an undocumented person in America.
Ramon Contreras is a 22-year-old Afro-Latino political strategist and activist based out of Harlem, New York. Ramon began his journey in community organizing in High School after losing his longtime friend to gun violence. During his senior year, Ramon founded Youth Over Guns, an organization dedicated to bringing awareness to gun violence in Black and Latinx communities. In 2018, Youth Over Guns organized a march across the Brooklyn Bridge attended by over 10,000 people carrying a casket to symbolize the deaths of those in the Black and Latinx community and urged for gun control.
That same year he joined March For Our Lives as the National Field Director and traveled the country registering and mobilizing young people to vote. Now, Ramon juggles being a college student, Deputy Political Director of the Manhattan Democratic Party, continuing to amplify Youth Over Gun’s message, and working at a law firm.
Daphne Frias is a 23-year-old youth activist who uses a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy. Not only is she a champion for the disabled community and often uses her page to inform others on how to be a better ally to those with disabilities, she’s also at the forefront of a variety of different social issues such as climate change and gun violence.
After the Parkland shooting in 2018, Daphne arranged buses for more than 100 students from her college campus to a nearby March For Our Lives event. In July of 2019, she was appointed as the New York State Director for March For Our Lives. As a result of her time at March For Our Lives, she created her own nonprofit called Box The Ballot (BTB), which aims to increase voter turnout and harness the power of absentee ballots in elections.
With the threat of climate change roaring, Daphne is also raising awareness of the implications this has for those who are disabled. In a past IG post, Daphne wrote, “We are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, and are often in multiple jeopardy situations facing layers of oppression, such as housing insecurity, lack of healthcare, poverty, food insecurity etc.”
Edna Lizbeth Chavez is a social justice activist, supporter of immigrant rights and a survivor of gun violence. She got her start in activism in 2016, ahead of the presidential election when she joined the Community Coalition’s South Central Youth Empowerment Through Action (SCYEA) group, which focuses on developing the next generation of leaders by empowering Black and Brown youth in South Los Angeles to push for policy changes that benefit their community.
She began canvassing to educate her neighbors on how certain legislation would affect their lives and hosted “Know Your Rights” workshops and community meetings. In 2018, she delivered a chilling speech at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. and told the story of a shooting outside her home that took the life of her 14-year-old brother, Ricardo.
Imxn is the head of PR of Global Girlhood and Period NYC and one of the founding members of IntegrateNYC, an organization that stands for equity in New York City schools. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Imxn has been dedicating her life to empowering New York City youth from a young age.
Having experienced firsthand public school segregation, she’s seen how her biracial identity impacted the interactions experienced with other students and her school administration. Imxn advocated for the right of every child to experience a free, culturally responsive, equitable and just education.
Over the past 6 years, she has engaged in a city-wide school exchange, led youth-centered projects, co-wrote a national curriculum on integration and youth leadership for Netflix, has participated in several policy discussions with city government officials, and even presented at the United Nations.
When Sage faced discrimination from her middle school due to a lack of support on her decision to publicly transition in 2013, she made it her mission to fight for other trans students. The Afro-Cuban trans woman is also the founder of TEAM Mag, an incredible digital zine amplifying the voices of young Black and brown artists and community members. Since then, Sage has participated on boards for the Human Rights Campaign, spoke at the 2021 Young Leaders Time 100 Talk, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and GLAAD for LGBTQ+ education reform.
Under the Obama administration, Sage became an ambassador for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and soon after, a Trans Youth adviser. Back in June, Sage returned to the White House and joined Press Secretary Jen Psaki alongside other transgender activists and leaders for an enlightening conversation on transgender equality.
Visibility to marginalized stories has the power to change perceptions—and quite frankly, the world. A director, writer and editor, Mariah has used her filmmaking skills to portray underrepresented stories in a new light. Her 2018 film, A Southside Journey, depicts her neighbors’ fraught experiences with gentrification. The film follows a young girl as she spends a day exploring her rapidly changing neighborhood, only to be greeted by an eviction notice on her front door when she returns home.
In her latest short film, My Brother’s Keeper, Barrera tackles performative activism that she witnessed on social media as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Her film is described by Deadline as a “Lyrical meditation on Barrera’s father’s and uncle’s experiences with brotherhood, incarceration, and the relationship between the two.” Mariah is also a winner of the Still I Rise Films Fellowship.
We all know mental health is important, and thankfully, the stigma around it has slowly begun to deconstruct in the past few years. In the Latinx community, however, there’s still a long way to go. Greisy is a 19-year-old activist, speaker and photographer who passionately advocates for mental health awareness. Speaking from my own experience, the work Greisy is rallying around and the resources she has provided is something I wish I had growing up.
As the founder of Las Chicas Chulas, a collective and clothing brand, she empowers young Latinas to embrace their roots and make a change in their community. The collective uses Instagram to help build community and uplift conversations on mental health. Additionally, Greisy acts as the chief operations officer for Gen Z Girl Gang. Her passion for immigrant rights and civic engagement has led to her involvement with the Immigrant Youth Coalition, Women’s Voices Now and Las Fotos Project.
Helena is an Indigenous environmental and human rights activist from the Kichwa Sarayaku community in Pastaza, Ecuador. Last year, she spearheaded a campaign called “Polluters Out” that includes over 200 young climate activists, scientists, indigenous people and members of grassroots organizations from over 40 countries around the world. For the 19-year-old, advocating for the rights of the Sarayaku community to maintain custody over their land occurs alongside her mother and older sister.
Her family is committed to preserving the Amazon and fighting off oil companies’ attempts at exhausting the environment for their own gains. Helena is dedicated to protecting her home’s land, people, plants and animals.
Jamie was only 15 years old when she founded the organization Zero Hour, a youth-led movement revolving around climate change and environmental awareness. She founded Zero Hour, whose mission is to teach and guide young activists who want to take concrete action and help curb climate change, after witnessing the effects of wildfire in her hometown of Seattle as well as the devastating results of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Jamie is also the author of Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It. Jamie’s strides include suing the state of Washington for not effectively protecting its young residents from climate change, helping organize a youth climate march in Washington, D.C. and testifying in front of Congress alongside Greta Thunberg about the impacts of climate change on their generation.