At first glance, Celisa Calacal ’18 might not seem to have much in common with big-name celebrities such as actresses Emma Watson, Sophia Bush, and Amandla Stenberg, but her Twitter account proves otherwise. Calacal’s handle @celisa_mia was featured alongside 12 others, both celebrities and community leaders, in a recent USA Today College article titled, “’The future is female’: Young feminists you should be following on Twitter.”
On campus, Calacal is the opinion editor of The Ithacan, where she focuses much of her journalism on issues of race, feminism, and criminal justice. Her social media presence follows suit. “Even though I’m a journalist, I’m pretty opinionated on Twitter,” she said. “I post about what’s going on in the news, and feminism comes up a lot.”
Despite Calacal’s frequent tweeting, her selection to the list came as a flattering surprise. “I was scrolling through the article and all of a sudden I stopped when I saw my name,” she said. “I thought, ‘Wait, how am I in this article?’ I’m not famous or anything. I don’t even have a lot of followers.”
However, the article’s author, Texas A&M student Susannah B. Hutcheson, said that Calacal’s non-celebrity status was a huge part of why she was highlighted in the star-studded article. “I loved how Celisa is a young, vibrant college student with a solid opinion,” she said.
After the USA Today article, Calacal said she felt some pressure to post smart content that would “blow everyone away,” but her goal on Twitter has remained the same: to post informative, inspirational content. “On International Women’s Day I tweeted ‘keep your feminism intersectional’ because that’s something that I really believe in,” she said. “I hope a small tweet or a series of tweets about a feminist issue will attract people, and maybe they’ll learn something.”
Intersectionality—a lens that examines how social identities like race, gender, and (dis)ability overlap rather than separating their effects from each other—is a huge part of Calacal’s editorial perspective. Yet even as a Filipino-American, she didn’t start learning about intersectional feminism until college. “Sometimes feminist issues, like reproductive rights or equal pay, forget the impact on women of color,” she said. “We don’t always talk about how women of color make even less to the dollar than white men and women do. I want people’s feminism to be intersectional and inclusive.”
Twitter has the power to help spread that message, Calacal says, which is part of why she enjoys using the platform to discuss feminism. Her Twitter feed is full of influencers who discuss racial issues and concerns surrounding white and Western feminism. In tweeting her own perspectives on social justice issues, she’s been able to network with this passionate community. “They challenge me to think differently about certain topics,” she said. “I’m still young, I’m still learning, and they help me understand things about feminism that I didn’t before.”