We are checking in with the new Youth MOVE Change Initiative Peer Fellows this week, and they have a lot of great things to say. Today, we are meeting Amara Ifeji!
What is something about you that you think is important for others to know?
As a systems thinker, I focus on the root causes that drive the inequities of society at large. My passion lies at the intersection of environmental and racial justice, especially as it relates to providing black and brown folks with positive experiences in the outdoors so that they may address the generational trauma they have in outdoor spaces.
What does being a leader mean to you?
One thing that being a leader is NOT to me is expecticting to be in the limelight. A true leader has no ulterior motives to striving for change, thus, they have no expectations of fame, money, or power. When they effect change, they instead ask themselves what else is there to be done to achieve the future they imagine.
What’s something that you did that was embarrassing but taught you a lesson?
I am a pretty clumsy person. I have had many times where I have spilled things, tripped and fallen, or publicly embarrassed myself. I believe that these many experiences have taught me not to take things so seriously as we all have these oops moments every now and again.
What does advocacy mean to you?
Advocacy is inherently intersectional as it should not solely focus on a single issue. I believe we cannot narrowly limit ourselves to single-issue advocacy; instead, we must have an intersectional approach to activism that contributes to addressing all inequities.
What is one thing you want others to know about mental health?
Especially when it comes to black and brown communities, where mental health continues to be stigmatized, I want folks to know that there is no shame in sharing one’s feelings and thoughts, or in seeking the support that they need.
What is one of your favorite ways of practicing self care?
Since the start of the pandemic, I have made it a practice to take a daily walk around my neighborhood forest. This has helped me immensely in terms of having an hour in my day where I can take in the natural world around me, away from preoccupying tasks and thoughts, and just with the serenity the natural world has to offer.
What advice would you offer to young LGBTQ+ and BIPOC leaders looking to create impact within their communities and beyond?
Find your people. If it weren’t for the people I have been in community with, I do not think I would be able to effect the change I have in my organizing experience. This is because you cannot show up for your community without first showing up for yourself. Fulfilling this practice is easiest done when those in your community, the family that you organize with, are actively checking on you as a person to ensure that you are showing up for yourself, getting enough sleep, not facing burnout, etc.