At just 17, she has created a space for the discriminated to engage with the rest of society.
When Onthatile Pooe’s idea of creating a platform to discuss social issues facing minorities was rejected at school, the zest of youth kicked in. She could have thrown in the towel on her idea and just lived her life as most queer, black women do, but she found another way to find her voice.
“I was definitely disappointed, but the women around me, whom I’ve always drawn inspiration from, continued to motivate me and keep the idea alive. These women have all contributed to the growth of women in their own ways and, and I was not going to stop now.”
This led Pooe to create an online platform called The Other People, allowing for more people who felt like her to voice their opinions and feelings. This platform was also open to anyone who felt social injustices in society. She wanted radical minds to deal with critical issues. At just 17, Pooe initially brought different races and sexual orientations together to change their societies, but now her vision has broadened.
“I wanted to bring all these radical minds together to change things. People usually don’t think outside of their situations and therefore cannot understand what other ethnicities or people with different sexual orientations to them are going through. It leads to insensitivity.”
“This is why I wanted strong people, because we first need to change our small societies on these social issues. Then I want to target South Africa and, eventually, I want my influence to spread worldwide.”
Pooe’s platform has not been around for even a year, but she already has highlights that have defined why she will not stop. She hosted a protest in July called Youth Pride. This was a protest vigil to celebrate the intersectional identity of young and queer people. She said that the positive impact she saw was astonishing and that it is what continues to drive her forward.”
“I want to continue with intersectional activism over the coming years. I want to broadly see social justice in every sector of society, and I want to continue helping those people who I identify with.”
Pooe, as a young woman inspiring many others, wants more women to find their voice. She believes that if fear is eradicated within women, the glass ceiling would be shattered and the patriarchy destroyed. She has found her voice and she encourages other women to find theirs too. “The key to us breaking a male-dominated society is perseverance. We have to stick to what we believe in and make our voices heard. We should not be afraid to be the angry woman, or the loudest person in the room,” Pooe said.
Great causes and revolutions do not begin with a leader screaming into empty space. This is why Pooe believes that, especially with the advancement of technology, women need to find a way to continue to score an equaliser in any small space that they are afforded.
“There will be challenges along the way, but life would be too boring if there weren’t.”