We are like many of the people we know who watched in disbelief as the Nation’s Capitol was stormed by insurrectionists bent on extracting the life of our congresspersons they deemed not in line with their nihilistic race-based conspiracy theories. It is definitely something I have never seen.
As I watched with two of our circle members, my daughters – one a college freshman and one a high school junior – I was keenly aware of their reactions. They processed as teenagers do. One is a journalism student at Thee Jackson State University who just finished a Teen Vote project with Teen Vogue.
I told them to capture their stories, to hold onto the thoughts, feelings, and reactions of what happened when they saw their country attacked from within.Rev. Antona
I told them the same thing a week later when the 45th President of the United States was impeached for the second time for inciting violence, domestic terrorism, and insurrection.
One of the empowering things I told them they can do, even as they share with their friends on Instagram and Tik Tok, is to write it down, on paper. Time will pass, just like 9/11 when my oldest girl was only six days old, and we may not remember details of seminal events in our lives. Or time will sharpen our view, it depends.
When The Hurston and Hughes Literary Circle meets this summer, we will process this unrest and attempt to make sense of it through some of the literature we will read. One of the things we talked about last year and will explore more this year, is the danger of a single narrative of Black lives. We talked about how excited we were with the myriad of choices of YA Black lit coming out but also bemoaned the recurring theme of protest and unrest. Perhaps it is the time of the authors holding onto that moment between 2012-2020 and wanting to make sense of it through the lens of a teenager. Or perhaps it is a publisher’s decision about what is marketable.
Unrest has a story of its own and as writers, readers, observers, we are striving to use the power of language to capture it, remember it. There is a proverb that if we do not remember – as in discuss, learn, meditate, and teach – history, we are doomed to repeat it.
Consider joining us this summer, if you are a Black teen. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how you can be a part of our reading community this summer.