When we grow up, we want to be like Marley Dias. At 15, the founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks—which she launched in 2015 at age 10—has already garnered worldwide acclaim and authored a book of her own in 2018: Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! In 2019, The Root honored her as one of our Young Futurists, and most recently, Dias made the leap to the small screen as the host of Netflix’s Bookmarks, which capitalizes on the teenager’s love of books and education with the help of some pretty major celebrity friends.
Speaking to The Root’s Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton and myself for the latest episode of our new literary podcast, The Root Presents: It’s Lit, Dias’s poise and self-awareness belie her years. Still, she says, “I’m not the Jedi master of activism and youth activism.”
“I’ve experienced success in these ways for doing these things,” she continues, later adding, “I don’t know everything. And I’ve had struggles trying to figure out what messages I want to send, and kind of who I want to be as a teenager and as an activist.”
Those struggles include normal teenage issues like navigating virtual schooling (with shoutouts to her teachers and sociology professor mom) and maintaining a social life while physically isolated from her friends. But when it comes to being hopeful for the future, Dias also has a keen awareness of how privilege functions, a refreshing perspective that, to us, makes the future look just a little more bright, after all.
“I haven’t experienced a lot of the struggles that some people go through,” she admits. So I know it’s a lot easier for me to be hopeful...I exist in a place of privilege, among others. So telling people to be hopeful is something that I don’t want to do because I know how annoying it can be to be overly positive and to feel like you’re ignoring someone else’s struggle.”
It’s doubtful Dias would be accused of ignoring the experiences of others, but as she continues to mature and evolve, she’s already gleaned some wisdom we could likely all benefit from.
“I always want to encourage the kids that although it might seem like you are alone in your frustrations and problems, we know through social media, we know through the Internet, and we know just through going about life that we are not alone,” she assures us, “and we can’t act alone in things that are difficult.”
Episode 7 of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!: How Marley Dias Gets It Done, featuring the multitasking Marley Dias is now available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, Amazon, NPR One, TuneIn, and Radio Public. Also available is a transcript of this week’s episode.