Maya Dummett: Amplifying Our Voices
Maya Dummett is a fifteen-year-old activist and writer from New Jersey. Maya writes weekly pieces for Lune Magazine that tackle social issues ranging from race to education. In addition to Lune, Maya is affiliated with various youth organizations focused on gun control, climate justice, and more. She even runs her own blog: “Amplifying Our Voices.” Read below to hear Maya’s narrative on her experiences sparking a passion for activism and the creation of her blog .
Growing up, Maya questioned everything, and like many teen activists, she always had a lot of “I want to save the world” in her. But something always held her back. Throughout her childhood, Maya saw the effects of drug abuse, poverty, and crime in face-to-face. In her school, in her community, and even her own home. As a result, Maya's intention was to make it out and nothing more.
"As shallow as it sounds, I wasn't concerned about my happiness nor the prosperity of my own community. Because in my eyes, the chances of a girl like me saving the world was slim. I thought that if I did really well in school, I could have a better life than those around me. I felt that grassroots organizing was not where I could do that. I wanted to be a lawyer, leave, and never look back. But things have changed. I never planned on being the voice for my community but here I am. Telling people that they deserve better, attempting to create change, and letting others know they can too. I've come to the realization that meaningful change is worth more than any paycheck or rise in status."
But it was not until the 2016 Presidential Election that Maya’s passion for activism and advocacy truly made itself known. In 2015, Maya started sixth grade, and a large portion of her Social Studies class became dedicated to analyzing the ins and outs of the 2016 Presidential Election. Maya and her peers talked about issues like education and national security as eloquently as sixth graders could. In an effort to know more, she made a point to watch election coverage outside of class and began to form her own opinions. Maya’s family found it amusing to see an eleven-year-old entranced by news commentators talking about tax rates and health care. According to Maya, from there it gets a bit fuzzy:
“I can’t remember everything that was said by each candidate, but I do remember feeling like less, and that was the turning point for me. I felt like I needed to do more but I didn’t know where to start. At the time—the age of 11—I didn’t have the words or the understanding of my experiences to describe how the 2016 election made me feel and so I let it go. But as the feeling of needing to do more resurfaced, I began to mobilize in late 2018, early 2019. At 11, I didn’t understand how being a young Black girl in America shaped my life, experiences, thinking, and all. Honestly, I hadn’t thought that my identity meant much at all. However, at the age of 15 I now know. I am aware that I am sometimes perceived differently by others. I am also aware that my life experiences are unique in comparison to those outside of my community and that there are some challenges I'll have to overcome to do as well as others who are not people of color. Over time and after many interactions with other activists, I realized that this was a common experience among people of color. After that, I really began to see that there was a place for my voice and experiences in the world of social justice and advocacy.”
So in March of 2019, Maya launched a blog called, “Amplifying Our Voices,” which is powered by people of color and dedicated to creating a better understanding of diversity.
“Our identities play such a large role in our lives. More than anyone would like to admit. It’s so important that we recognize this diversity. Corporations, schools, and environments alike boast about their diversity without even understanding what that diversity means to people like me. I couldn’t find a space that was dedicated to solving that problem so I made one. It’s time to allow people of color to rewrite the narratives that are about them but not by them and that's what Amplifying Our Voices sets out to do. ”
This idea of racial equality has become a focus in Maya’s activism. But in addition to racial justice, Maya has taken on other causes such as climate justice, gender equality, and general social activism.
“Everyone seems to have narrowed down their activism. But no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to do that. I care about way too many issues and there are so many pieces of activism that directly impact me. Some people aren’t fond of me for that, but I’ll continue to be the multifaceted activist that I am until further notice.
With the state of the world today, I just feel compelled to do more. I’m still trying to figure out what that means for me. I just know it's not enough to recognize the bad, feel awful about it, and move on. I have to do more, we need to do more. I can’t fathom how people separate themselves from our reality on a regular basis and go on about their lives. I’ve spoken to people and the common theme seems to be hopelessness. This idea that the world is stuck in its ways, injustice is unavoidable, and that’s it. But I refuse to believe any of that is true. Change is possible and it’s coming whether we like it or not. It’s just up to us to join the fight. I choose to fight today and every day from now on. Change is worth it and there will never be a time where I won’t make that choice."