On October 28th, we had the pleasure of sharing #dearblackgirl letters with a group of youth in Washington, D.C. Promising Futures is a community-based youth development pipeline that engages youth to take a stake in their own development while celebrating their inherent talents and interests. Their brilliant founder, Maranda Ward, used #dearblackgirl letters and some from Hey Little Brother (a collection of letters written to young Black boys led by TBP board member Marcus Littles) to facilitate a meaningful and relevant conversation with her group of co-ed high-school peer educators.
The group started off by discussing the many publicized incidences of violence against young Black people, from Trayvon Martin to the recent incident where a security resource officer violently arrested a young black female student while seated at her desk in a classroom. The conversation extended to their own encounters with metal detectors and zero tolerance policies in their schools. This led to a discussion of what it means to be dehumanized. Using what sociologists call a “sociological imagination” (Mills, 1959), they were able to make connections to what they see and experience every day at school and on their Instagram timelines with the larger meanings of what it means to be young and black or brown in America.
After their rich discussion, they used posters and markers to respond to the prompts we provided in the original call for #dearblackgirl letters: Who is s/he? What does s/he dream of? What challenges will s/he face? What joys will s/he celebrate? What will s/he need to know? What does s/he need to know now?
After coming up with their own masterful responses (see picture above) the group read a selection of letters from #dearblackgirl and #heylittlebrother. Each student took a letter, highlighted passages that stood out to them, read them aloud to their peers and then issued their own messages to young black girls and boys. See the letter-inspired tweets below:
#dearblackgirl you have to #accept yourself before you accept anyone else #love yourself #BLM #blackgirlmagic
#dearblackgirl you are more than what your #haters say, you are here in the #world for a #purpose #BLM #blackgirlmagic
#dearblackgirl we face a lot in this world due to our #color but when we endure: We #learn. We #grow. We get #stronger #BLM
#heylittlebrother Quitting isn’t an option & hard times come, but everyday I’m gonna work harder, pray bigger prayers & fight
#heylittlebrother the process to being a #man is slow but just be #patient and know that mistakes are gonna happen #BLM #blackmen #stayswaggy
We are grateful to these youth for taking up their pens (and phones) to demonstrate the power and purpose in young voices!
Follow Promising Futures on Twitter: @prmsngftres