La Jolla Country Day School student Elinor Amir-Lobel recently won an essay competition with a $2,000 cash prize and has been busy as well this summer founding a nonprofit, selling her original sticker art and donating 100% of the profits to the Black Lives Matter organization.
The theme of this year’s Ninth Circuit High School Civics Essay contest, which Amir-Lobel captured was “The right to Vote: Milestone Anniversaries.”
Amir-Lobel said that theme resonated with her because “I am very politically inclined and have an interest in the workings of politics and government. I researched the history of voting rights in this country, reading Supreme Court cases on the subject and applying my knowledge of U.S. history from school.”
Asked why voting rights and racial disparities are important, Amir-Lobel replied, “I am the daughter of immigrants, have been raised trilingual, and I have a dual identity. I have been sensitive to exclusions and social justice from an early age. This country was founded on the notion that every citizen should have a say in their representation and rights, and the Constitution was created in part to protect minorities even when they are viewed in discriminatory ways.”
Added Amir-Lobel: “If at any time any group of people is not equal to any other, there is a serious problem within our system that should be addressed. The depth with which the system is designed to discriminate, however, cannot be fixed with any number of simple solutions. It would take constitutional amendments and the collective agreement of the people to make any meaningful changes.”
Amir-Lobel’s sticker art represents the protests and struggles of minorities and people who have been excluded and marginalized. “All the stickers are drawings of protesters at Black Lives Matter rallies and symbols of equality and togetherness,” she said. “I drew all the images digitally and I hand make them into stickers.”
Of the importance of Black Lives Matter, the Country Day student said, “Racial justice is a cause that should be high on everyone’s priority list. Consider that while people of color make up only about 13% of the overall population of the United States, they simultaneously make up over 60% of the people behind bars. In the words of Desmond Tutu, ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’”
Discussing her wide-ranging social activism, Amir-Lobel said, “I am one of the co-founders of the Female Empowerment and Education of Leaders (FEEL) club. We felt there was an absence of a direct representation of powerful women in our community. We also felt it was necessary to expand our views from solely what is shown in the media to the reality of what women can accomplish.
“We are a group of capable women who want to make a meaningful impact. This year we are taking on a philanthropic project, specifics to be determined later, that will help women globally that are in need.”
The high-school student said she is saving her essay cash award for college. “I have also been working as a tutor teaching virtual Spanish and Hebrew classes this summer to younger children and am saving up that money as well,” she added.
Of the origin of her nonprofit, Amir-Lobel noted, “During the Black Lives Matters protests this summer, I wanted to find a way to both raise awareness and raise money for the BLM cause. I began to draw images of protesters digitally for fun but soon realized that I could sell them as stickers if it meant that I could make even a little bit of an impact. I am still constantly working on expanding my reach and range of products. I am selling my stickers on Etsy.com (https://www.etsy.com/listing/835657917/black-lives-matter-stickers-100-of?ref=listings_manager_grid.
Concerning her career aspirations, Amir-Lobel confided: “I am still figuring out what my goals are. I know that whatever I do, it is important to me that it has significance and allows me the platform to help others.”