Over the last year, our own Contributing Writer Tia Shah, has been writing an amazing column about trailblazing girls throughout history. This new Incredible Girls column is in that vein, only this column is about contemporary girls under the age of 25 who are doing awe-inspiring and significant things in the world. Every Friday in 2019, we are going to post a column detailing the life of an Incredible Girl and why you should know about her. Read on for a glimpse into the life of climate change activist, Isra Hirsi.
Climate Girls could have been a mini column, but oh well…as I’ve said for the last couple of weeks, this IG column might turn into a love letter to badass climate change activists for the foreseeable future — and I regret nothing because they are all so incredibly awesome and a fitting part of this Incredible Girls column. Let’s dive in.
16-year-old Isra Hirsi is a high school sophomore from Minnesota, and is one of the co-founders of the US Youth Climate Strike. In her USYCS bio, she said that she grew up with “intense climate” and she has since became very knowledgeable and well rounded about climate change issues and how they impact communities. “Seeing pipelines being built in my state, extreme snow conditions, and hearing about Flint MI, I really wanted to do something about it,” she said. “So I did, I joined my school’s green team a year ago and got connected with iMatter Minneapolis. As a black Muslim woman, it is important to me to have intersectionality be brought into this fight!” Isra is also currently a member of MN Can’t Wait, which is a youth coalition of organizations dedicated to fighting climate change.
In an op-ed for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Isra, along with Alexandria Villaseñor, Haven Coleman and Maddy Fernands wrote about the impact of climate change and why young people are going on strike and have more of a sense of urgency than adults.
“We strike because our world leaders haven’t acknowledged, prioritized, or properly addressed the climate crisis,” they said. “We strike because marginalized communities across our nation—especially communities of color and low income communities—are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We strike because if the societal order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then influential adults will be forced to take note, face the urgency of the climate crisis, and enact change. With our future at stake, we call for radical legislative action—now—to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people.”
In an interview with Elle magazine, Isra was asked if she could say anything to the sitting U.S. president, what would it be and why. This was her powerful response: “I’d say you’re not messing with politics, you’re messing with lives,” she said. “You’re messing with futures. The young people of America and the young people of the world don’t want you to be playing with their lives. They’re not going to just sit down and listen to you. We’re going to stand up and fight for as long as it needs to happen, until you and the other politicians in office value our lives, just like you value your own.”
In the same Elle piece, Isra, the daughter of Minnesota representative, Ilhan Omar, also said that she could see herself running for office one day, because getting more women and people of color in office is important and necessary.
Check out these great interviews to learn more about Isra and her climate activism!
The climate movement needs more people like me – The Grist
10 things you’ve always wanted to ask the students skipping school to fight climate change – Greenpeace
Girl Museum Inc.