Hamilton’s new leading man Javier Muñoz on Monday (Oct. 3) participated in the ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building in blue to honor STOMP Out Bullying. The 11-year-old initiative is meant to highlight the importance of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month each October.
Soaring 1,454 feet above Midtown Manhattan, Muñoz explained to VIBE VIVA why championing such a cause is especially important in the digital age.
“I just care about our young people having a visible option that they can turn to for education and protection and for empowering themselves. What I seem to find as the Internet takes off and as social media becomes more and more vital to our daily lives, I see a lot of young people who just don’t know how to protect themselves,” said the 40-year-old, who’s also been vocal about his fight against cancer and HIV diagnosis. “And we still don’t have a system with social media that holds everyone accountable for their words, and that’s dangerous. We really have to—especially us adults—make sure we are doing our best for young people who are on social media platforms, using them without their parents always being around to help guide them.”
His sense of responsibility to the youth growing up with the Internet is rooted in his personal encounters with cyber bullies. “I’ve challenged the bullies, I’ve tried to show it when it happens, to all of the people following, thinking, ‘Hey, this is what it looks like’ and don’t be ashamed to speak about it because the more we talk about it the more we can change it,” he said, before urging others to take up that same gauntlet. “We’re all of an ethnicity, we’re all of a sexuality, we’re all of something, a belief. And [we’re in] a country where we should be able to feel safe in whatever skin we are given. So, I think it’s everybody’s responsibility.”
Thank you @EmpireStateBldg for your support of @STOMPOutBullyng World Day of Bullying Prevention. #BlueShirtDay2016 pic.twitter.com/6xdONazJDu
— Javier Muñoz (@JMunozActor) October 3, 2016