Young people leading the way, Autumn round-up.
What defines a leader? Five young people answer that question through creativity and expression.
By Madz Rehorek
The word ‘leader’ seems pretty loaded. Visuals that spring to mind tend to involve podiums, suits, booming voices and rules which makes me want to phase out and reach into my pockets to my find my headphones. But what actually defines a leader? We’ve been pulling apart what leadership can mean at CMY and young initiator participants have been opening up the discussion even more.
This is where I’m at with it: leaders can sometimes be people who connect through vulnerability and creativity, and through that reveal strength. Here are five young people who I’ve been following this month who oooooze creativity and whose values I can get behind. Compassion, understanding, reaching out and backing each other up are threads that I see through what they make and articulate.
1. Rahmalia Aufu Yazid
Let’s kick this off with one my new favourite photographers, Rahmalia Aufu Yazid. Her work is so soft, with echoes of matte textures and airy colours that get me every time. When she spoke to BuzzFeed, she called Tokyo a “cold and restless city," where people dress in neutral colours of black, white, beige, and khaki and where bright colours and striking patterns are rare. She uses this to her advantage and plays on the mood of her city whilst introducing tones and colours through fabrics and nature, combining Muslim and Japanese fashions in self portraits and moments from her daily life.
“I want to use what I do to improve people’s understanding of Muslims, change biased views about the religion, and help people realize the value of living in a diverse society."
2. Rebekah Hogan
Getting local, I recently met Rebekah in Fawkner (a pocket of Melbourne’s North) and she struck me as someone who really lives by the values she talks about. She’s a young leader from Oxygen youth committee, where she takes an energetic approach to representing young women in Moreland City Council. We recently discussed the values that she finds inspiring in others and her response was fast and strong,
“People who are hands on, confident. I value honesty and openness. Also humour is essential, as well as emotion. We don’t have to hide it if we cry, or hide our empathy.”
Read her article reflecting on cultural identity in Australia, here.
3. Tyler Ford
Tyler is an award-winning non-binary advocate, writer, and speaker, whose ‘creative and critical writing on queer and trans identity inspires, comforts, and challenges a diverse spectrum of audiences.’ They have an advice column for LGBTQI+ youth on MTV, and there is an absolute gold mine of articles to raid through here.
A quote from one of their articles that pulled me in,
“Tonight, I went to a small nail-painting party with two trans friends. We modelled different colours, complimenting each other’s choices and coordinating our nails with our outfits. Sitting cross-legged on the floor in a white T-shirt and black shorts, I pasted a black nail transfer on my middle finger that reads, “Go away.” I didn’t feel secure enough to throw this finger in the face of the man who laughed and took a photo of me on my train ride back, but upon arriving home safely, I take my own photos.
.. Looking at myself, I see love, resilience, strength and beauty. I smile, finally recognising my essence in my
4. Asalah Youseef
I found Asalah via @the.sisters.project and was drawn in straight away. She’s a 15 year old public speaker and advocate for the ‘Real Acts of Caring’ organisation in Canada, which she has represented through podcasts, local and national school boards, city councils and even sports stadiums.
Her message? How important spreading acts of love and kindness are in everyday life and how it should be a focus of teaching in schools.
Follow her and a series of beautiful photographs, here: @asalahyoussef
“Your voice can be the beginning of someone else sharing theirs” - TEDx Youth, May 2019
“My barn is my happy place, it’s where everything else that happened in the day doesn’t matter anymore, because the only thing I need to focus on is myself and my horse. It’s is such a therapeutic place. Sometimes it helps me to control my emotions and sometimes it helps me to release them, because you get to be one with nature and your horse.” - Asalah Youseef
5. Anthony Young (AYXNMD)
Seeing as though this is an Autumn round-up and my mind steers back to orangey leaves against grey Melbourne skies whilst en route to a fire place, I have to include the perfect backing track to those strolls; Anthony Young. An incredibly talented local musician whose dreamy melodic voice sounds only gets better once he breaks into intricate and percussive rap. Get lost in his relaxed reggae vibed track ‘Repo’:
… and for a stripped back acoustic track, check out ‘XO’:
Hoodie portrait by Rahmalia Aufu Yazid.