For 17-year-old Ramaya Thomas, her voice is her power, but she didn’t always feel like she had one. “I was a quiet kid who hated public speaking and even making eye contact with people,” she recalled.
Ramaya found her voice, and her confidence when she joined Kuumba Storytellers. She was able to share historical stories and inspire and educate kids of all ages through her work.“Confidence and strength have made me,” Ramaya explained. “As I have grown and matriculated into different spaces, I have surrounded myself with wise people who have affected the way I think, react, and fundamentally live my day-to-day life.”
“As I have grown and matriculated into different spaces, I have surrounded myself with wise people who have affected the way I think, react, and fundamentally live my day-to-day life.”
While Ramaya said much of her confidence has come with pain and struggle, she believes it has made her stronger. She cites her mom and dad as her biggest role models in life and is grateful for their encouragement. “They have pushed me in so many ways, educated me, and most importantly, loved me immensely through my failures and accomplishments unapologetically,” she said. “They have educated me on different perspectives and provided me with a different outlook on life. They have really helped me find my purpose in this world.”
Now, Ramaya is the co-founder of We Spark Change, an organization promoting youth activism around police brutality, racial injustice, and other systemic issues. She is also a journalist who writes about political issues and world news and an aspiring lawyer. She is passionate about political issues that concern the African-American community. She is driven by love, particularly the passion she has for creating change and creating equitable spaces. “I do what I do to ensure that youth know their voices matter,” she said. “I am a huge believer that representation matters, and when more of us Gen Z members show up and show out consistently, we will galvanize and inspire so many of our peers to do the same, ultimately changing humanity and society for the better.”
“I am a huge believer that representation matters, and when more of us Gen Z members show up and show out consistently, we will galvanize and inspire so many of our peers to do the same.
As an exceptional Gen Z’er making an impact, she was honored for her work in the Social Impact space through The ConversationaLIST. “I use my voice to foster and create spaces where people can come and feel safe, empowered, inspired, and capable of anything they put their minds to,” she said.
She wants young people who haven’t found their voice yet to allow themselves to take a risk and not be afraid to fail forward.
In five years, Ramaya hopes to work as a lawyer, advocating for criminal justice reform. “I see myself working mainly with mass incarceration and changing lives that have been unjustly affected,” she explained. She hopes that her voice never goes unheard and she will have a positive change in her community.
Ramaya is an active member of The Conversationalist and resonates with its mission to make the world a better place and break open echo chambers.
She believes that people don’t only tolerate each other in a unified world but accept each other. She looks forward to seeing Gen Z accomplish this through progressive change and essential conversations. “I think we are extremely efficient with progressive organizing and bringing each other together,” she said.
“I have also had to come to terms that everyone won't agree with me and my opinions, and that's okay.”
To break open her echo chamber, Ramaya listens to others while remaining self-aware. To navigate difficult conversations, she tries to get personal with others to understand their differences. “I have also had to come to terms that everyone won't agree with me and my opinions, and that's okay,” she said.
Big snaps to Ramaya Thomas for all she does empower young people to enact change. Keep up with her on Instagram and follow We Spark Change to learn more about her work.