Ilhan Omar, the freshman congresswoman from Minnesota who made history as the first Somali-American elected to legislative office in the U.S., has a powerful ally in her fight to combat climate change: Her 16-year-old daughter Isra Hirsi.
Together with 12-year-0ld Haven Coleman and 13-year-0ld Alexandria Villasenor, Hirsi organized the U.S. component of Friday's International Youth Climate Strike, a protest in which students from around the world are walking out to demand urgent action on climate change.
Hirsi told The Cut that she's been aware of the issue for most of her life but started participating in protests when she joined her high school's Green Club. When Coleman reached out to her via Instagram about leading the protests she says she thought it was an "insane idea at first," but soon learned more about the climate strikes going on around the world.
"I think that young people sense the urgency," Hirsi explained to The Cut. " These adults don’t really have to live with the problem of climate change, and young people have to deal with it for the rest of our lives."
The teenager has been outspoken about the need for a person of color to be a key voice on climate change.
"People of color are disproportionately affected by climate change and that kind of just gets ignored. People are living with these things right now," Hirsi told The Grist.
She continued: "It’s important for people to step back and realize that they’re not the only people. Environmental racism is a really big thing. The environmental movement is still predominantly white, how do we change that conversation? Having women of color leading is one way to do that."