(Artwork by Anya Thakur)
Liberty High School

Words from women of color: Rupi Kaur, Nikita Gill, and Komal Kapoor on witnessing change

Words from women of color: Rupi Kaur, Nikita Gill, and Komal Kapoor on witnessing change

Being a young Indian American, first-generation as the daughter of immigrants, and the first in my family to receive a high school education in the United States will always be a core part of my heritage and identity. Embracing this diversity and the cultural diaspora that follows me, whether through the broken English pronunciation of my family, the fusion and rich continental cuisine my mother prepares for me, or the stories my grandfather recounts, allows me acceptance and perspective.

And it has empowered me to advocate for women and girls of color, such as Asian Americans and underrepresented minorities, and champion their representation and positive portrayals in film and media.

For girls like me, women like Rupi Kaur, Nikita Gill, and Komal Kapoor are emblematic of excellence in the arts and literature. Their bold, unbridled passion and commitment to the stories of South Asians and women and people everywhere inspires me to take pride in my identity and fight for opportunity for people of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

They have taught me to speak out, to stand tall, and to never have fear when what I am doing is right. From founding Coalition for Community to support ELL (English Language Learners) students in my school to hosting a book drive campaign as the president of GirlUp Dallas to distribute books centering on women of color, seeing these stories be sewn into the tapestry of the great melting pot of America has shown me that the richness and color of my country comes from artists, storytellers and trail blazers.

These three women, all South Asian Instagram poets and artists using their immense platforms to enact change, are changing the definition of what it means to be a woman of color in today’s world. They are witnessing a change and a shift in perception and global consciousness because they are being the change.

“Milk and Honey” and “The Sun and her Flowers” author Kaur taught me that representation matters.

“Representation is vital,” Kaur writes in her poem “Representation.” “Otherwise the butterfly surrounded by a group of moths unable to see itself will keep trying to become the moth.”

Gill showed me how I, as a girl, have power.

“To all the little girls out, there, we will set fire to this world that steals your childhoods, rips away your choices and voices, and stops you from being everything you want to be,” Gill writes. “And build you a better one from the embers, the kind that treasures you for all your capabilities.”

Kapoor helped me to love and embrace all that I am.

“Give yourself permission to be divine,” Kapoor writes. “You are divine, as you are.”

And I aspire to help continue to lead the charge, champion the cause, and spearhead the battle for girls and women and underrepresented minorities everywhere through my words. These are my words not just as a girl of color, but solely, purely, and unabashedly me.