Isra Hirsi, the Teen Activist Whose Social Media Was a Light in the Darkness

Illustration: Angelica Alzona/GMG
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It’s been a tough year for young Black leftists. Our preferred presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, was no match against President-elect Joe Biden during the Democratic primary. We witnessed the need for Medicare-for-all become more pressing than ever as the covid-19 pandemic caused widespread job loss and eye-watering medical bills. And our calls to defund the police following a summer of high-profile police brutality have been used as a scapegoat by the Democratic party and our own elders for losing local and statewide elections.

There have been some victories on the electoral side: incoming Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)—both Black, both left-of-center—will soon join Congress, but they’re already getting pushback from members of their own party, most recently for having the gall not to stan House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Bush got plenty of love when she wore a mask bearing Breonna Taylor’s name, but as soon as she supported defunding the very system that led to Taylor’s death, she was immediately dogpiled by liberals on Twitter and demonized as a Sanders drone and corrupted by The Squad.

We have to keep on trucking—organizing, educating ourselves and others and calling out injustices as we see them. But we need levity and catharsis too, and one of the most surprising sources of that for me this past year has come from a clever 17-year-old girl, Isra Hirsi.

Hirsi is a climate organizer, a skeptic of electoral politics, and an unabashed Marxist. She’s also the eldest daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). But as much as Hirsi loves her mother—as evidenced by social media—she’s made it clear that she’s her own person, with her own politics, and her own goals. She’s not too online these days, perhaps because she’s busy applying for college and because, as she told Teen Vogue in October, having a platform is a major stressor. But her TikTok videos are fucking hilarious and her occasional tweets are a great little escape from the bleakness of my Twitter timeline, which, these days, is largely comprised of leftists and media goons subtweeting each other and a smattering of decent memes.

Hirsi doesn’t hesitate to poke fun at her mom, Rep. Omar, which is hilarious in its own right. A TikTok featuring Hirsi arguing with a wall with the caption “me trying to radicalize my liberal politician mother” comes to mind, as does their banter on Twitter.

But she has time for her mother’s haters too, eviscerating them flawlessly.

Still, it’s the fearless way Hirsi voices her skepticism and cynicism of the institutions and figures we’re meant to trust that I admire most. It’s her writing “losing my mind” to caption a photo of a Black Lives Matter adjacent sweatshirt she found for sale at Urban Outfitters. It’s the fact that she’s just as skeptical at calls to push Biden left as a lot of people on the left are. It’s the fact that she dressed up like a fucking Girl Boss™ for Halloween and gave a shout-out to the KHive (Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s most diehard fans, who were fuming in her mentions) for good measure.

Don’t even get me started on her penchant for calling out white leftists, with a pitch-perfect breakdown of how racist beauty standards and fetishization hurt women of color.

In other words, her politics are killer, and her ability to keep a bunch of dweeby adults and cornballs pressed is top-notch.

As Hirsi’s reassuring public presence exemplifies, the younger generation of Black leftists has not been deterred from stirring shit up and looking beyond electoral politics for answers to what ails us. Hirsi is the prime example of this, whether she’s shit posting or being sincere in her disdain for the Democratic establishment. A lot of us can relate, and I hope she continues to spend 2021 telling it like it fucking is. Someone needs to.

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

DISCUSSION

cisum88note
cisum88note

I’m not enthusiastic about making teenagers (especially teens of famous people) icons before they can even vote.

I also find her comments about criticism for defunding the people extremely ironic, seeing as she lives in Minneapolis, which has seen a 64% increase in shootings this year, with young black men 6x more likely to be killed than other demographics, troubling. Minneapolis had the right idea to initially allocate funding for other services (and followed through with $8 million for mental health and community services), but advocates like Hirsi still call to completely abolish the police department, even after these rising crime statistics and at the same time provide no imminent alternative solutions.