By age 11, Marley Dias is already a seasoned media activist. Frustrated at the lack of books featuring characters to whom she could relate – books with subjects other than “white boys and their dogs” – Marley’s mother asked her what she was going to do about it. And so, in November of 2015, the #1000blackgirlbooks book drive campaign was born. Marley exceeded her goal by collecting over 4,000 books and brought them in February 2016 to a school in her mother’s hometown in Jamaica.
But Marley didn’t stop there. Together With her friends Briana and Amina, Marley created BAM, and their website welovebam.com is a hub for their blogging and activism. Their #RoomforChange campaign is redecorating dreary rooms for children to live in at the Newark YMCA, and they have also traveled to Ghana as wellness ambassadors with African Health Now.
Then last September, Marley became editor-in-chief of Marley Mag, her very own digital zine on elle.com. Though she’s only two issues in, she’s already interviewed Hillary Clinton, Ava DuVernay, Misty Copeland and more. With other features like Smart Girl Glasses and Lipsticks to Love, a chat with the founder of MuslimGirls.com, paper dolls to cut out from teen artist Kyemah McEntyre, Marley Mag is more than a feel-good effort from Elle, or pandering for clicks from teens. It’s carving an authentic space in the fashion world for young girls of all colors, tastes and interests.
That’s something we at The LAMP can get behind. We live for the moments when our students find their voices, and realize that they can be so much more than spectators in a world full of media and technology. Like Marley (and Briana and Amina), they can take matters into their own hands. They can talk back. Should they find the world they want doesn’t exist, it’s up to them to make it – just like Marley Dias is doing now.