I couldn’t sleep. Reimagining innovative spaces for engagement for minority youth kept me up. The past week, we hit a different space with my daughter. It’s that space every parent dreads but know it’s inevitable. The friendship zone. I remember being in this space when I first moved to the US and kids can be tough to themselves and each other for no reason other than coming from a place of hurt. And when hurt meets light, I tell her all the time, it cannot be hidden. They will try, but you are light. And for her and other black children, my thoughts kept me up. Future orientation matters according to research, alongside religiosity and of course parental support. But if we are to truly bring change, then children like my daughter need to live out this quote often attributed to Chinua Achebe: ‘Until the lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will only glorify the hunter.’ For my daughter, and other black children, I am prepared to carve out spaces for lions.
The thought of doing something provocative, innovative, for black youth, minority youth, kept me up. And reading too. What if all children, black ones in particular knew they were light, not some days but all the time? What if I created something that could mirror my love for this light, maybe as storytelling or even poetry into positive health outcomes for young people’s lives. I want to keep this here so my brain can start imagining. We don’t do enough dreaming, enough understanding of ways kids themselves can be light? So what if we don’t speak about the problems, but about solutions. What if we give lions the opportunity to begin to claim their rightful place in history and tell their stories their way? What if we let black youth rise up and live up to their highest potentials? Rise up and be the light they were destined to be. The odds against black lives are enormous. The research on the negative effects too are overwhelming. Reading through existing literature yesterday kept me up. And enough is enough. I’m hungry and ready for a new generation of research that speaks to children’s light, speaks to their voice, speaks to their bravery and resilience despite all the hurdles they face. If we are going to intervene, so that my children and your children live in Martin Luther King’s dream, not a perfect utopia, but one full of light, then I’m all in. So I ask what will it take for us to create a platform for brave voices. One laced in the past, but for the future. One standing on the shoulders of the greatest giants, Morrison, Achebe, Lorde, and Angelou or my dear friend Ritamae. One that builds on Amanda Gorman’s light, if only we are brave enough to see it. I am. And for black youth, I am prepared to climb these hills so you know that you are light, you are loved, you are blessed and we are rooting for you. Keep being light. Be brave too and don’t stay hidden.