Today, Paris Jackson makes headlines for her high-profile fashion campaigns and celebrity friends like Millie Bobby Brown, but the 20-year-old is also forging her path as an activist. In case you forgot, Paris is not just Michael Jackson’s only daughter (she has two brothers) but also the goddaughter of late Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor.
Taylor memorably founded the The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991 to help combat and treat the disease, and now, Paris is following in her godmother’s footsteps. In a new essay for Teen Vogue, she writes about National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day, April 10, and why addressing the topic is just as important now as it was during the AIDS epidemic.
“I turned 20 exactly a week ago, and over the past few years, I’ve been unapologetically navigating self-creation, fostering authenticity, and working on my passion for activism,” she wrote, explaining that she was recently named an ambassador for Taylor’s foundation. “I’m trying to use my celebrity as a platform to illuminate a social issue that has faded from the spotlight: the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.”
Paris moves on to explain how discussions about HIV awareness have been “diminished,” and that education about the disease across the country is not up to par. “We’re 37 years into the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, and institutionalized oppression is still the oxygen that this crisis breathes. Uncoincidentally, communities that have historically been subjected to prejudice—such as people of color, LGBTQ people, economically disadvantaged people, sex workers, and drug users—also experience higher incidences of HIV and AIDS,” she continued.
In addition, Paris also addressed other social justice movements she feels passionately about.
“We are the ones shaping the world for future generations, and we have the opportunity to fight for the rights of people my age to access quality education and health care, and for our right to be included in conversations and decisions regarding our own well-being,” she wrote, urging young people to step up for a cause.
“We’re demanding transformation, and we must do our absolute best to challenge and change the system in which we live; we must participate in demonstrations and continue to create movements like #NoDAPL, March for Our Lives, and #MeToo, because our lives literally depend on it.”
Something tells us dad would be proud.