People in Your Neighborhood: Elinor Amir-Lobel: Major involvement for this minor
For Elinor Amir-Lobel, activism seems to come naturally. The 16-year-old La Jolla resident, a junior at La Jolla Country Day School, has involved herself in many social justice projects, determined to make a difference, no matter how small.
She spoke to the La Jolla Light about her civic engagement and what drives her to be so involved.
Q. You started a club at your school — Female Empowerment & Education of Leaders — with two friends in 2019. Why?
A. “We realized with the political climate, and the media in general, there was a lack of female representation, and we wanted to create a safe space where we could invite powerful women from different companies to come talk about their experiences. This year, we’re going to choose a project and dedicate a lot of our time to doing something philanthropic … to help women locally.”
Q. You won first place in the 2020 U.S. 9th Circuit Courts essay contest themed “The Right to Vote: Milestone Anniversaries.” What was your essay topic, and why is it important to you?
A. “The topic was the constitutionality of the right to vote, and issues with racial disparities and changes throughout United States history that have allowed people to vote. It also tied into current events with this year’s election and various Supreme Court cases.
“I took AP [Advanced Placement] U.S. history last year, and this year I’m taking AP U.S. government and politics. [In] my reading this summer for AP government … I learned new things about how important it is to make sure everyone votes. The topic of voting is important: it’s how we make sure there’s representation for everyone. It’s important that everyone is on equal footing with the government.”
Q. You’ve also started Art4Equality, an online shop where you sell stickers and donate the proceeds to Black Lives Matter in response to the recent civil-rights protests.
A. “I was at first signing every petition I saw online, and every petition asks you to donate, but I’m a minor. Separately, I started drawing digitally pictures of protesters posted on Instagram. At first the intention wasn’t to do something with it, but … I came up with the idea of making them into stickers and selling them. Even if the reach wasn’t going to be that large, any little thing would help. So far I’ve raised about $300.
“I think there’s something to say for the fact that [activism] doesn’t have to come from personal experience. There’s the humanity of it all, the fact that there are people whose lives aren’t as privileged and predictable as mine. The idea that there are people who are treated unequally. That shouldn’t be a thing.”
Q. You’ve also donated baked goods to pandemic front-line health care workers. Why is volunteering and activism so important to you?
A. “I feel like if there’s any little thing I can do to help anything or anyone, I want to do it. I couldn’t really quantify a specific reason, but it just is my reaction. My reflex is to want to be able to help.”
Q. Where do you think you come by this sense of civic duty?
A. “I think it’s just ingrained in me from my parents and my older sister [Danielle]. My school also talks about it a lot. I kind of always have been interested in it. I follow politics and government closely because it directly affects my life and others. I think it’s important to know what’s going on.”
Q. In addition to your parents and sister, whom do you admire?
A. “The classics — Michelle Obama. Really anyone … who did great things for humanity.”
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. “I am really proud of [Art4Equality] and raising money. It’s not just directly related to me. ... I’m proud that it directly affects other people.”
Q. What are your goals and how do you hope your activism will help with those plans?
A. “My plan now is at its vaguest — go to college. I’m interested in so many things. I could do something medical or with a social aspect. I hope [my accomplishments] inspire bigger things, because right now it’s what I can do as a 16-year-old, but I hope I have built a basis now of understanding whatever I do directly impacts other people in a positive way. I hope it’s beneficial to the world in some way, even if it’s small.”
— Editor’s note: La Jolla Light’s “People in Your Neighborhood” series shines a spotlight on notable locals we all wish we knew more about. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. ◆
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