Who will become Kid of the Year for 2021? The answer will be revealed on February 9 during a TV special on Nickelodeon. In the weeks leading up to the show, we’ll be introducing the top five nominees. Read on!
Mina Fedor and her mom were walking near their home, in Piedmont, California, when a stranger leaned toward her mom and coughed. Mina knew what it meant. Her mom is Korean. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, there has been a rise in discrimination and violent attacks against Asian Americans. It’s fueled by a false belief that Asians are responsible for the coronavirus.
Experiencing racism firsthand was an eye-opener for Mina. She had to speak out. Not satisfied to raise a single voice in protest, she and her friends organized a rally in March 2021. On social media, Mina invited people to join her at a park in Berkeley, California.
She expected about 70 people. More than 1,200 showed up. They carried signs: “We Have Power,” “I Am Not a Virus,” and “Stop Asian Hate!!!” Mina led the crowd on a march to a footbridge crossing a freeway, where people posted their signs on the fence. Cars passing below honked in support. Mina knows that racism isn’t new. She and her brother have been called names. And she has studied United States history.
But COVID-19 has brought a new wave of prejudice. Asian Americans fought back in the past. Like them, Mina is rising to her moment.
Spreading the Word
Mina, now 13, is no newbie to activism. She participated in her first rally in 2017. It was the Women’s March in Los Angeles. Mina might seem like a naturally outspoken kid, but that’s not the case. She has been described as quietly intense . At the Berkeley rally, she overcame her nervousness to speak to the crowd. She believes in young people’s power to create change by making themselves heard.
On that day in Berkeley, Mina founded AAPI Youth Rising (AAPI stands for “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders”). The middle school activists worked to get a law passed that makes teaching ethnic studies mandatory in California public high schools. The group also partners with national organizations to support education on racism, ethnic diversity, and AAPI issues in schools nationwide.
Many instances of anti-Asian discrimination are not reported in the news. That’s why Mina sees it as her responsibility to be outspoken. She won’t be silent in the face of hate.
Correction: An earlier version of this story noted that AAPI Youth Rising was working to get a law passed that would make teaching ethnic studies mandatory in California public schools. That law passed in October 2021.