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Kofi Siriboe On Why He Declares Himself A Feminist At 23: “I Champion Women”

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Your wisdom does not lie in your years but in the gravity of reaching your deepest self. Kofi Siriboe is the embodiment of this. At age 23, his achievements are enough to color a resume of a lifetime, but the humility that Kofi radiates would make you think this is just the first step of his journey. With a recent interview with Bleu Magazine, the actor, poet, and photographer opened up and revealed the morsels of gold that sit inside of his soul.

"I am [a feminist]. Period. I champion women, I value women, I respect women. Like imagine saying you're a feminist but in real life you disrespect women. I think being a feminist starts at home. It means you understand first, taking the time to get the knowledge. Put yourselves in situations to have these conversations. Once you get that knowledge, process it and figure out a way to be helpful."

Have you ever witnessed a Black man living his life as a love letter to women? Kofi considers himself a feminist through and through, and with a lot of grey area existing between the intersections of where feminism subjectively lies, the young artist reminds us of the nucleus of feminism through an extension of himself: the love of his mother.

To be grounded in feminism is to be rooted in the love for the women around you. Kofi's love permeates any rigid idea of feminism by the simple, yet profound, love for the woman who birthed him.

"It's just the simplicity of the fact that my mom is really awesome, we have a great relationship, and as I'm getting older, I'm learning more about her journey and her struggle. I mean really she wears the cape. I don't wear a cape, she does. I'm just honoring her, and honoring her through my existence…like who I am, what I represent. That to me is rooted in my character and my mother—I came out of her. That's an ode to her."

As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, "We should all be feminists."

Everyone's implications of what constitutes themselves as a feminist may vary, but the root of it is where the truth grows. In the wake of an uproar of sexual misconduct cases and abuse of authority against women, it can seem as though "feminism" has become a reactive weapon rather than a revolutionary movement rooted in the desire for equality. With outside views trying to skew the solidarity of feminism, it's important we return to the core of the ideals - because small acts of love will always be revolutionary in the scope of war. To Kofi, that means starting in the local realms of your heart's vicinity.

"Value the people that you can value. Let it start with your mom, your sister, whoever is close to you and extending it from there. That way young people are able to say I'm a feminist–it's just about starting somewhere. That to me is being a feminist. I think it's about respect, understanding and taking action."
Black men loving women is an act of political warfare, in a country that disregards us and the magic inside of us.

In the loud truth of being a feminist, we can hear the echoes of women who have been waiting to be addressed, heard, and loved for years before our birth. It is liberating to hear the genesis of chains being broken that represent inner turmoil between Black men and women. It's about time we all become feminists and begin to uplift the women within arm's reach, to catalyze millions extensions of self, to be works celebrating the divine feminine.

Kofi's existence is a reminder that it isn't anywhere but the roots, the home, where feminism lies. Start with yourself and extend that love to others around you. Life will begin to taste a lot more like sugar.

Read the full Kofi Siriboe feature in Bleu Magazine.

Featured image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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