Location: Atlanta, GA, United States
Campus: Oglethorpe University - Atlanta, GA
Fellowship Class Year: 2008
Featured Fellow Spotlight
What do you stand for?
I think the best way to sum it up is to say that I believe in community. Belief in community also means that you believe in people building each other up and leaving no one behind. This is especially important when talking about youth because we are the people who are often left behind. A lot of systems – prisons, family, schools, etc. – make it hard to come up.
Che Guevara said, “A true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”And I believe love builds a strong community. Where people are creatively organizing, regaining power, rebuilding, and sustaining what is around them.
I also believe that creativity, especially hip-hop, is essential to (re)/building community. My work with Hip-Hop Media Lab allows communities to reclaim Culture & because culture is being used as a weapon. We work to support culture in the service of the people who created and not against them.
Tell me more about Hip-Hop Media Lab Collective and the other work you’re doing right now.
I got involved with The Hip Hop Media Lab Collective while living in Boston, MA. The Hip Hop Media Lab uses culture and media to amplify positive messages and provide a guide for economic development for low income youth, produce theory and educational curriculum (hip hop history, organizing,), and allow artists a space outside of the market to hone their skills and challenge each other to be innovative.
Right now I’m going to school in Atlanta, GA and I’m also working as a youth organizer at Project South. At Project South I work with young people to build the youth community action program. There I’m supporting the youth led radio show –Youth Speak Truth which is broadcast on public radio station WRFG 89.3. I support the 14- 19 year old team as they report critical & truthful community, state, nation, & worldwide news.
I’m also doing national youth outreach for the US Social Forum June 22-26 in Detroit Michigan. Leadership Development in political education for youth 14-19 years old. Also doing national outreach for the US social Forum. Which will happen June 22-26 in Michigan. Working with youth working group = outreaching, mobilizing, and being support for young people at the Social Forum.
Why is it so important for young people to be at the US Social Forum?
We can’t have a social forum without having a focus on young people. The slogan for the 2010 US Social Forum is “Another World is Possible, Another US is necessary” and none of that can happen if young people aren’t involved. It is important to know our history but young people are the future! And there are a lot of things stopping young people from making it to the future. It will give people space to show the work they are doing and the fight that they have learned. If we want to make a new world possible, we need to change our country.
How did you find out about Project South?
When I was in high school I was taught about youth organizing and power. That made me look at the world with a critical lens. So right after I graduated from high school in 2007, I went to the first US Social Forum in Atlanta. I went as part of the Freedom Caravan and it was a really amazing experience. That community inspired me and gave me the faith that things can change. It gave me a sense of identity and purpose and gave me the chance to meet amazing people from across the country doing great work! There a mentor connected me to Project South. And since moving here, it has been my Atlanta family. Since then community work has become part of who I am. This work needs to get done and it is our duty to do something with the information we learn.
4) What is a struggle that you’ve faced or are facing in your work? What advice do you have for others dealing with those struggles?
In youth organizing there is often a struggle of power due to the facet that young people are so often denied power. When you go into a community that you’re not coming out of it is important to learn from it and become rooted in what surrounds you. Respect that community by following the people in the community because they know it best.
Also, something I’ve learned in Atlanta was to respect elders and wisdom that they have. Building bridges across age by working together really helps sustain the work. When you’re doing community work it isn’t a job because a lot of stuff is personal. Some people will tell you it shouldn’t be this way but in a lot of this work it would be wrong not to take things personally. Because it means you have a larger vision about why you’re doing the work and the change it will create.
How can other fellows get involved or find more information about the work you’re doing?
You can check out Hip Hop Media Lab on myspace – myspace.com/hiphopmedialab. Project South projectsouth.org.
If you’re interested in the US Social Forum ussf2010.org and want to become involved in the youth organizing working group or other working groups you can visit wiki.ussf2010.org.