Lizzo Spotlights Human Rights: 5 Books To Continue Her Call

People’s Choice Award winner, Lizzo, shared the spotlight with 17 activists to amplify human rights. We continue her call to action with these 5 books.

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Lizzo at the People's Choice Awards

Lizzo showed us all that it’s about damn time to be uplifting others! At the People’s Choice Awards, the pop star stunned us all with her groundbreaking speech after receiving the People’s Champion award. Instead of reciting a well-rehearsed acceptance speech, Lizzo did something extraordinarily special. The spotlight wasn’t solely shining on her. Lizzo stepped to the side and gave space to celebrate and honor 17 human rights activists who’ve given their all to creating change.

In a time when the battle for human rights is at the forefront of our society, it’s vital to keep ourselves informed about the people who push the issues of human rights forward. Keep on reading to learn about the powerful people Lizzo highlighted, and our picks for books to keep the fight alive for human rights everywhere.

Lizzo Shares the Spotlight

Lizzo Spotlights Human Rights: 5 Books To Continue Her Call. Lizzo is awarded the People's Champion award.
IMAGE VIA MARK VON HOLDEN/ E ENTERTAINMENT!/ NBC

As a big girl myself, I’ve been looking up to Lizzo as a role model for years, and with her speech, she cemented herself as social justice celebrity whom more superstars should be taking notes from. As Lizzo accepted her award as the People’s Champion, she invited some unexpected guests to the stage. Pulling away focus from herself, Lizzo used her time to individually recognize 17 amazing activists and the honorable work they do for the advancement of human rights.

The Shining 17

  1. Amariyanna Copeny: 15-year-old who fights to ensure everyone in Flint, Michigan has access to safe drinking water.
  2. Shirley Raines: Founder of Beauty 2 the Streetz. Connects with the unhoused people of Los Angeles to make them feel protected.
  3. Yasmine Aker: Iranian American grassroots activist who supports Iranian women and their fight for freedom. 
  4. Emiliana Guereca: Founder of the Women’s March Foundation. 
  5. Esther Young Lim: Founder of How to Report a Hate Crime, and works directly with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community
  6. Felicia “Fe” Montes: Co-founder of the women’s collective Mujeres de Maiz, and a Chicana Indigenous artist and activist. 
  7. Jayla Rose Sullivan: Plus-size and nonbinary professional dancer who ensures space for transgender and nonbinary performers. 
  8. Kara Roselle Smith: Member of the Chappaquiddick Wampanoag Nation. Works to seek justice in the Land Back movement and reparations.
  9. Maggie Mireles: Sister of Eva Mireles, who died in the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Maggie continues the fight against gun violence. 
  10. Amelia Bonow: Co-founder of Shout Your Abortion. Works to normalize and increase awareness of abortion in communities around the U.S. 
  11. Odilia Romero: Co-founder of CIELO, and translator for Indigenous peoples from Mexico and Central America living in the United States. 
  12. Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh: Director of student life at UCLA and Vice President of Jewish engagement at American Jewish University 
  13. Sahar Pirzada: Works with the Heart to Grow organization. Seeks to protect Muslim women from gendered violence and oppression. 
  14. Chandi Moore: HIV and trans rights activist. Health educator at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. 
  15. Crystal Echo Hawk: Founder of IllumiNative. Member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. 
  16. Reshma Saujani: Founder of the Marshall Plan for Moms and CEO of Girls Who Code. 
  17. Tamika Palmer: Mother of Breonna Taylor. She continues the fight for justice for her daughter with the Breonna Taylor Foundation. 

Passing the Mic

If Lizzo has taught us anything from her astounding speech, it’s that when you’re in a place of privilege, use your platform to uplift others. Whether it’s by handing the mic off or using your power to bring awareness, the best thing anyone can do is provide support.

“I’m here tonight because to be an icon isn’t about how long you’ve had your platform. Being an icon is what you do with that platform. And ever since the beginning of my career, I’ve used my platform to amplify marginalized voices. So tonight, I am sharing this honor. Make some noise for the people, y’all.”

Lizzo, People’s Choice Awards

You can watch Lizzo’s entire speech here:

VIDEO VIA YOUTUBE/ NBC

Now, it’s time for us to do our part here at Bookstr. We raise the voices of these five wonderful authors, and the stories they tell that will help change our society for the better.

1. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Lizzo Spotlights Human Rights: 5 Books To Continue Her Call. 'The New Jim Crow' book cover with somebody behind bars.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

In our country, there are many issues at hand that play into the racial and societal divide that we see today. The only way we can bridge this divide is by learning how it became our reality in the first place. That’s exactly what Michelle Alexander does in her critically acclaimed novel, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. With a background in the criminal justice system, Alexander enlightens us all about the truth of race relations and our perceptions of the incarcerated. 

Her startling revelations are exactly what we need to hear,

“We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Alexander breaks down the history of racial discrimination in our country that primarily impacts Black and Brown Americans. If we are to fight back against the systems that continue to oppress the most vulnerable, we first have to understand where they came from.

2. Pride: The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement: A Photographic Journey by Christopher Measom

Lizzo Spotlights Human Rights: 5 Books To Continue Her Call. 'Pride: The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement' book cover with a huge crowd surrounding a large pride flag on the street.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

The saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In the case of Christopher Measom’s book, Pride: The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement: A Photographic Journey, these pictures are priceless. Do you want a visual history lesson? Then this is the book for you! Traveling through the decades, Measom unearths LGBTQ+ movements that we’ve long forgotten about. This isn’t some simple picture book either. Inside are in-depth descriptions of the struggles and victories the LGBTQ+ community dealt with throughout the last 100 years. 

These archival photographs are vital to the LGBTQ+ community. By documenting such important events in history, we can now look at the voices of those who fought back against all odds. As violence and hate only continues to impact LGBTQ+ groups, it’s our responsibility to protect and support those within the queer community as much as we can. With that protection and care, we’ll hopefully see images from our current day that will serve as historical importance in the next 50 years.

3. Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Lizzo Spotlights Human Rights: 5 Books To Continue Her Call. 'Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice' book cover with someone hugging the roots of a tree.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

There’s one group of people that continuously gets left out of conversations around social justice, and those are the voices of the disabled community. Luckily, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is here to reinforce their rights to humanity and respect. In her novel Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, she uncovers the lives that many disabled people have to navigate without help or support. 

Our society is not accessible in the slightest, but we have the opportunity to make it better. In our world, we are more likely to cast out the people who don’t fit into the narrow societal norms. But Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha tosses those “standards” right out the window. We are introduced to the beautiful but truthful work that disabled people produce every day. Disabled people deserve the respect, honor, and space in this world, and we must make room for their voices to be heard.

4. What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon

Lizzo Spotlights Human Rights: 5 Books To Continue Her Call. 'What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat' book cover with white text and red cover.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Just like disabled voices, fat people are rarely at the table when social justice is being discussed. The intersections between disability and fatness actually overlap more than you think. And as a living, breathing, fat person, I can attest to the discrimination and stereotypes that are pushed upon me just for simply existing. These hidden truths are brought to light in Aubrey Gordon’s book, What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat. 

This novel gives plenty of room to discuss the numerous ways in which fat people call for change in our straight-sized society. Almost everyone knows a fat person, but not every fat person is respected. Internalized fatphobia runs through our country’s veins, but there’s still space for healing. Gordon lays out the ways to be a fat ally and how to rid yourself of the fatphobic mindsets that we’ve all been taught since toddlerhood.

5. All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

Lizzo Spotlights Human Rights: 5 Books To Continue Her Call. 'All About Love' book cover with black text and red background.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

We couldn’t end this list without including one of the most prominent voices in the social justice community, bell hooks. Hooks’ writing has always been focused on raising awareness of those who have been marginalized for centuries. She continues that work in her novel, All About Love: New Visions. In this personal and powerful book, hooks dives into what caused our society to become so fractured. Her diagnosis? The lack of love. 

Especially in our current climate, we do not hold care for our neighbors, our community, or strangers (just look at the effects of the pandemic). Our individualized society cannot exist any longer unless we wish to fail altogether. The way of community is still one of our strongest powers, and it’s one we should be utilizing more today. If there’s one takeaway from bell hooks’ novel, it’s this:

“When we are loving, we openly and honestly express care, affection, responsibility, respect, commitment, and trust.” 

bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions

From Lizzo’s miraculous speech to the words of authors before our time, the fight for human rights continues. But if there’s one thing that we can all learn from this moment, it’s that if we band together in solidarity, our fight will end in victory. 


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