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“Seeds of change” a conversation with 7 NYC Activists including Jillian Mercado, Khrystyana, Keenan Javon + More.

Activism is something all millenials or anyone socially connected has seen spurred on by the web, but we wanted to look further into what that means. Not by way of fad or just jumping on the “hype” for monitory gain but what social and political change really means to Seven of New York Cities based activists working to make tomorrow more inclusive. Shot Exclusively by Rob Woodcox for FGUK Magazine, talents and activist Khrystyana, Chella Man, Jillian Mercado, Keenan Javon, Mama Cax, Bermuda and Rify Royalty speak up in “Seeds of change” in an exclusive for FGUK Issue 6: The Streets.

Art Directed by Elvis Maynard with Hair +MU thanks to Vanessa Law. Assting thanks to Dinah Bess Rotter, Elaine Winter and Laura Beckerdrite.

Read More Below & See full interviews when you BUY ISSUE 6 NOW. 

When I think of activism, what first comes to mind are the emblematic figures that have fought the sociopolitical battles of modern History. Fundamental pieces in a chess game of sorts. Kings and queens in a world of chronic intolerance. People who have often had to sacrifice a lot – sometimes even their own lives – to make the World a more inclusive and accepting place. Activists, however, come in many forms. Some are bold and violent. Others, reserved and peaceful. Some are lucky enough to live in a time and place in which they can freely express their thoughts, and challenge the issues they seek to change. Others, have idealistic cravings, which are illegal dreams in the societies in which they operate. Activism is a movement; a mindset. It can be political. It can be social. Its importance is revealed when it has an effect on our collective consciousness.

When people put themselves at risk and challenge the status quo, they encourage others to do the same; to see what is wrong around them, and to do their part to fix it. All of us can be activists. All of us can create positive change in the World even if we aren’t able to dedicate ourselves completely to that struggle. When it is lesser in scope, we might refer to it as advocacy.

Together, activists and advocates are an important part of democracy, as they shine a light on the marginalized and the stigmatized. In some cases, people become activists and advocates before they even realize it. I think back, for example, on my school days and growing up as a gay boy in Brazil. I was harassed, spit on, and called a faggot each and every day. I refused to recoil, no matter how scared I got. Unable to share any of this with my family, I carried on with my life and studies. Was this not, in some way, an act of unconscious activism? Maybe activism and advocacy are the fights that we lead to show people a reality beyond their own. Whether it be an issue of race, gender, sexuality, accessibility, or standards of beauty, activism is about identifying the lines that divide us, and working on erasing them so that we may, little by little, work towards becoming more supportive and accepting of one another.

Today, this dream seems almost impossible, as our leaders have become more divisive than ever. This context of political polarization and dehumanization, however, drives us to protest and advocate for that which is right. Having tools that were never available before, the new generations have turned to the internet and social media to get their messages out into the World, and the strengthening effects of these narratives is exponential. The following images are portraits of seven modern activists and advocates, who have used their growing followings as an opportunity to spread messages of love and acceptance. They are influencers who seek to play their part in achieving a better and fairer tomorrow, because after all, we’re all part of one big beautiful human family, aren’t we? – Yago Vieira de Oliveira Almeida

 

Fashion thanks to Oscar Chen, Sarah Swann and Vassilis Zoulias. 

 

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