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My name is Taylor, and I am a 16-year-old living in the busy city of New York. NYC can be so distracting with the crowded streets and trains and buses to catch. I find tranquility through writing. With writing, I can sit back and plan my thoughts, and have the words flow out on paper. I'm hoping that writing takes me far in life. I want to be an essayist and write about African American experiences. Being socially conscious is vital in this day and age, and I strive to empower others and have them be aware of the issues happening in this world.
This was a poem I wrote for my leadership program. This poem is in the perspective of the gun that shot and killed seven-year-old Aiyanna Stanley-Jones during a raid in her Detroit home while she slept. I am the lethal weapon that has divided my community I am the reason why my people are slowly diminishing I don't want to be at fault I don't want to be in the hands of the untrustworthy Every time someone decides to pull the trigger, I know that I have let my people down again The evidence is there: The bullet in her head Soaking her kinky curls in a wine red Blood staining her living room carpet Her mother's tears The one who holds me is at a loss for words All I can say is, “I'm sorry.”
“I was always… as Ghostface put it, ‘the arsonist who burns with his pen…' (We were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates).” First, let me address why this is a confession. As a sixteen-year-old, when people see me, I am like every other teenager. I am lazy. I am irresponsible. I am indecisive. So, when I say that my dream is to be a part of black Hollywood, it automatically comes off as outlandish. “ You'll change your mind.” “That probably will not even happen.” No one seems to believe a teenager when they have aspirations and goals that take special dedication to accomplish. This dream is not a phase. I don't have ten different professions in mind. I want to be a part of black Hollywood. Maybe I could be the modern-day James Baldwin. A Roxane Gay; Ta-Nahesi Coates. Writing has always been essential to me. Words keep me sane. It keeps me safe, and it makes me feel alive. I strive to be an essayist and write about African-American experiences. It all started during the summer. As I woke up every morning for work, I was eager to get there and Converse with the staff. As I said at the signing table we talked about a range of things; relationships, school, books, but most importantly, Society. One conversation that I remember vividly was on my first day on the job. I was in the office when a staff member walked in and asked: “what is feminism?” Having learned about this in my 10th-grade honors class, I said matter-a-factly, “feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights.” That sparked an impromptu conversation with everyone in the office; we disputed, we laughed, we shared our stories. I was engaged in an adult conversation, and didn't feel uncomfortable, or that my voice wasn't being heard. They were listening to me and told me that I was an old soul that I was very wise for someone my age. It was an experience I've never had before. Later, the same staff member told me that I might be a womanist: someone who focuses on the issues of Black women, and woman of color. I couldn't agree more. I took an old journal, ripped out use pages and needed my activism journal. I read books, watched documentaries, wrote down new vocabulary. I was finding myself, finding a place where I felt I belonged. I want to be amongst the greatest in my generation. Rowan Blanchard, Amandla Stenberg, and Yara Shahidi are just a few of the most impactful teenagers of today. Yara's ability to be socially conscious and still make time to be the witty teenager that she is has given me the extra push of reassurance that I needed to dream this dream of being an essayist, a part of life Hollywood, and never to lose myself in the process. I watch TV, and I see myself; curly hair, quirky personality, excelling at making sure her voice fills the room. Yara has given me the gift of representation. I want to encourage Black girls to rise and break the barriers that society isolates us in. “Black Girls Club: Empowered, Fearless,” does just that. There, I gather the Black girls in my school and teach self-empowerment and activism. These girls need to know that they are unique, and were given a voice for a reason. I found myself, my dreams, this summer, and maybe I'm the person they need to help find themselves. We are the youth. We are the future. It starts with us and ends with unity.