Yara Shahidi has activism in her blood. The founder of the voting rights initiative Eighteen x 18 stars in the first episode of The 2020 Project, a documentary series produced by VICE in partnership with Levi’s®, exploring the issues that matter most leading into the 2020 election.
“At Levi’s®, we’ve never been afraid to use our voice to stand up for what’s right — for our employees, our partners and our fans,” says chief marketing officer Jen Sey. “In turn, we are also proud to celebrate those who speak up, who use their voices to drive progress. There is no purer use of the individual’s voice than the vote. In 2020, we are proud to tell Yara’s story in this launch film, in celebration of how she is using her voice, to raise other’s voices up and champion the vote.”
Shahidi, whose grandfather also began his social engagement as a teenager, founded Eighteen x 18 to inspire others to become politically engaged. In the first episode, “Uncounted,” she sits down with three young activists and Eighteen x 18 delegates, Sara Mora, Thandiwe Abdullah and Greisy Hernandez, to talk about how they can galvanize the next generation.
Here’s a bit more about the activists.
Twenty-three year-old immigration-rights advocate and DACA recipient Sara Mora has been an activist since high school, where she participated in committees advocating for immigration rights. But she didn’t fully realize the weight of her undocumented status until she started to apply to colleges and was unable to obtain financial aid.
“That’s when my organizing really turned up,” she says. Since then, she’s gone on to become a leading voice for immigration reform in the state of New Jersey. “You can change the world as an individual, including voting,” she says. “We want people to really understand the value of their voice.”
At just 15 years old, Thandiwe Abdullah has been a devoted Black Lives Matter advocate for years, working to create safe spaces for black youth to organize around racism and anti-blackness.
She co-founded the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard, an advocacy group for children and adolescents ages 6 to 18, which organizes students, parents, and faculty against the “over-policing” of LA’s public schools.
Abdullah has also been active with March for Our Lives, focusing on what gun control should look like for black youth. “I feel like whatever needs to be done,” Abdullah says, “why can’t it be me to do it?”
When 17-year-old Greisy Hernandez founded her organization, Las Chicas Chulas, a collective and clothing brand meant to empower women of color, she wanted to create the community she’d always wished existed. One where women of color, particularly Latinas, could go for advice, inspiration, and other mental health resources they’re often denied.
“In the Latinx culture, it’s very stimagized talking about mental health,” she says. “But there’s no way to heal if you don’t talk about these things.”