Updated: Jun 12, 2019
I first saw Malavika Kannan’s name on Huffington Post under this headline: “I Led My High School’s Walkout To Demand Gun Reform. Here’s What I Learned.”
In it, she wrote about the hot Florida sun and the heaviness of the megaphone she held in her hand.
The 18-year-old writer described herself as plant mom and activist on her Huffington Post author profile, the kind of description that just makes sense for someone like her. Serious, but fun; humble, but proud.
It’s perhaps the most concise description you’ll find of her.
Kannan’s a “sassy, brown-skinned, complex, big-hearted, hyphenated-American.” On top of being a Gen Z activist, spoken word poet, and writer, she also experiences self-doubt on the daily. She, like many other youth, initially found both comfort and confusion in the many labels she wears.
“The truth is, I’m self-taught. I don’t have an agent or steady editor, and I’m constantly faking it until I make it,” Kannan explained.
Over time, she got to appreciate her writing for what it was; for what everyone else saw it as.
Another student described her writing style as “easy to read, hard to digest,” an accurate reflection of how Kannan tackles topics such as race and gender in her writing; with ease and a subtle sense of humor.
“As a kid, I always felt hollow when reading popular books, because I knew they weren’t written for or by girls like me. Because of this, I hesitated to set The Bookweaver’s Daughter in India, fearing I would be taken less seriously,” said Kannan. “It ended up being about a girl like me—and it finally felt authentic.”
By giving voice to the women around her, Kannan hopes to inspire the next generation. Her piece of advice to her younger self is to knock on doors until they open for you.
“You never know where it will take you.”
Editors: Danielle Irene, Chloe Wen, Zoe Rivera
Designers: Simon Jie
Malavika's Instagram: instagram.com/malavika.kannan/
Malavika's Website: malavikakannan.com
The Homegirl Project's Instagram: instagram.com/homegirlproject/
The Homegirl Project Website: homegirlproject.org