At the tender age of 17, activist Amandla Stenberg has taken social media by storm with her refreshing insights into living an authentic life. Being authentic, she says, means being vulnerable. “When I am myself, most authentically myself, free of self-hatred, free of self-judgment, then I am also my most revolutionary,” Amandla says. “It takes vulnerability to be yourself. And it takes vulnerability to find strength in your own identity.”

    When you truly embrace your identity and let the world see the real you, Amandla says, you’ll find that people will connect with you on a deeper level. “When I am most authentically myself, I am also the self that people are more easily able to connect to,” she says. “And I also happen to be the best version of myself.”

    Vulnerability can not only bring people closer, she says, but also help us get past judgment and prejudice. “Isn’t that kind of how we connect to other human beings, through our authenticity and through our vulnerability?” Amandla says. “And isn’t that how we can actually transcend these barriers that we’ve constructed?”

    Amandla strongly believes that authenticity is the key to empowering the next generation of girls. In fact, she envisions a society that celebrates gender and race differences and teaches self-acceptance. “My hope for the future is that if we continue promoting this sort of authenticity and self-love and pride, if we continue dismantling these negative Eurocentric beauty standards, and if we continue making sure and demanding that we have a space in media and we have representation, then in the future, little black girls who grew up hating their hair actually won’t hate it in the first place.”