For the Girls

Welcoming our Her Testimony Youth Apprentices

October 29, 2020

A couple of months ago, we announced the launching of our youth apprenticeship, a program that will provide training in research, analysis, and storytelling for Black girls in North Carolina. This apprenticeship will build upon the the work of the Her Testimony campaign, which lifted up the experiences of Black women in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the extension of this campaign, we are positioning our apprentices to be witnesses, storytellers, and champions of Black girl wellness amidst the converging threats of the pandemic and racial injustices.

At the start of the apprenticeship, we briefly met everyone in a park to officially welcome the apprentices into TBP with gifts and portraits taken by our very own Winnie Okwakol.

Since mid-September, we have been virtually meeting with our four dynamic apprentices. Led by Erin, our Program Director, each of our apprentices are learning how to bear witness with Black girls and women through dialogue, create narratives that heal and affirm, and take ownership of our voices and power. Along the way, our apprentices are connecting with Black women storytellers, such as our friends Janelle Harris Dixon and Shanelle Gabriel, who created space to sharpen our apprentices’ skills in bearing witness through interviews and crafting stories. 

A recent guest workshop on techniques to create a good story led by poet Shanelle Gabriel.

After facilitating listening sessions with other Black girls to gain insight on how the pandemic has impacted their lives, our apprentices will create a creative resource of wellness strategies for Black girls to focus on their well-being in light of intense and stressful times.

We are excited to officially introduce the Her Testimony Youth Apprentices: Aniya, Chalina, Deja, and Noire. Get to know them below.


Aniya Arnold

How do you want to impact the world?
I want to impact the world by creating screenplays that evolve into films about an array of experiences that introduce people to new perspectives that they haven’t come in contact with before.

What do you want to accomplish or take away as a result of your participation in this program?
I want to become better at finding my voice and using it effectively to make real change, and improve my collaboration skills.

 

Chalina Morgan-Lopez

How do you want to impact the world?
I want to be able to use my skills and knowledge to enact social justice in our communities, and to be a voice and amplify the voices of those who are most silenced.

What do you want to accomplish or take away as a result of your participation in this program?
I want to take away more connections that can further my success in the future, and a long-lasting sisterhood with those who I’ve connected with, as well as valuable skills and new perspectives through helping develop the #Hertestimony campaign with Beautiful.

 

Deja Palmer-Reese

How do you want to impact the world?
I want to impact the world by bringing light and putting the spotlight on the underdog stories in any way possible. I enjoy doing this by writing my poetry in different perspectives with different subjects being addressed. By writing, I am also able to let people know that someone connects with them and understands what they go through; thus making them feel comfortable and less lonely. I want to have a career in the medical field as well because I enjoy helping people and making people feel safe. After joining this apprenticeship, I realize how much more I want to do for the community. This is my first time contributing and I feel and know I could help much more.

What do you want to accomplish or take away as a result of your participation in this program?
I plan to accomplish bringing awareness to the struggle that Black women and girls face during the rise of COVID along with the steady uprising of police brutality. Stories like theirs can easily be brushed away or looked over, so to be able to make a campaign and interview people really makes me happy. I want to take away a new knowledge on their situations because I was unaware of the risk that black women/ people face dealing with COVID. I also want to take away a new knowledge when it comes to writing as well. Conducting interviews, writing and listening to reports, and learning about the new lenses that the program uses may help me in future writing situations.

 

Noire Meyers

How do you want to impact the world?
Short answer: I want to bring more representation to us Black girls in the media, and create more safe spaces. Long answer: I want to use my writing and artistic skills to bring diversity to the types of Black girls we see in the media. Yes, there are Black girls who are loud and outgoing and there’s nothing wrong with that, but they are not a monolith. And not to mention the extreme lack of diversity in fantasy/sci-fi like stories. I want to make my own stories, my own games, with girls we can all relate to on a personal level, not just a skin-deep level. I want to bring awareness to mental illness through these stories, an elephant in the room we’ve been ignoring for way too long, and provide access to effective resources that even girls from different nations can access.

What do you want to accomplish or take away as a result of your participation in this program?
I want to walk away with the ability to create my own campaigns that’ll reach people inside and outside my intended audience. I want to be able to organize interviews and projects properly with little procrastination. I want to know how to properly use people’s testimonies in my campaign along with how to properly manage data for said project/campaign and how to properly interview someone.


Khayla, our creative director, leads the group in a quick icebreaker.
Bria, our project coordinator, posing with Deja, Aniya, Chalina and Noire.

In our orientation a few weeks ago, we asked each apprentice this question: What would it look like if all Black girls were valued, respected, and free? After ten minutes of imagining what freedom looks like for themselves and each other, a vision statement of freedom and hope was developed. This is the intention and declaration that we have been holding on to throughout the apprenticeship.

“We as Black girls are able to freely express ourselves without fear of harm or being silenced for speaking our truth and being our genuine selves.”

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