I’m forever the only black person wherever I go.
Awestruck, my breath is still at the site of all the young black faces convened in one space. As a 16 year old walking onto the San Francisco State campus for the first time, it was a professional setting I found myself comfortable in as the roll call of California campus voices roared across the auditorium, “CSU Fullerton! UC Merced! UCLA! Long Beach State! Go Bears! UC Santa Cruz!” Each campus chanted from a place of pride and I saw young leaders who were fighting for change and doing the work that I had been hearing about and striving for.
Youth check-in for the 2018 Afrikan Black Coalition (ABC) conference.
I was a participant the first day of the African Black Coalition conference where I learned about Power, Privilege and the Liberation of All African People from a diverse panel that included previous Black Panther Party member, Elaine Brown, who caught my attention right away.
“Black women are the core of this world, but the lowest on the economic list.”
Wow! This really got me thinking about how much black women have contributed to society, yet we are undervalued, underserved and our stories, damaged.
The day closed with a workshop: Follow Through to Win. It focused on how we, as black people, are kept distracted and how to better handle situations we recognize as problems. I enjoyed the conversation facilitated by activist, Tiffany Loftin. Her points were so much easier to understand than the panel I listened to earlier. I was able to keep up and she struck me with,
“A problem is something that is wrong. An issue is a solution or specific solution to a problem.” I liked this part of her presentation because I never really thought about the difference between a problem and an issue. Lightbulb! A problem is something that is wrong with no real fix. We just talk about it. An issue, rather, is fixable. Tiffany explained how we need to find a solution to our issue instead of just focusing on a problem that doesn’t get solved. I think we, in this generation, get so stuck on a problem that we forget there are actually specific issues that warrant our attention towards real, achievable wins. Everyone today has a lot to say about the people in power that represent us, but are you voting?
Hundreds of youth of color attended the conference.
The second day of the conference was by far my favorite experience. I volunteered at the Resource Fair. This was the day I had been practicing for. It was the day my talking points weren’t just talking points anymore, they would turn into real conversations with real people. I was a little nervous before it started. What if I forgot what to say? Or what if I said the wrong thing? As people started to trickle in, I got to talk to more and more students, and I started to get more comfortable again, energized by that roll call of students buzzing around my table. It was really cool to be able to meet with so many young black people and hear all about the different schools and majors. I learned a new study, anesthesiology. I didn’t even know what that meant, but it sounded good, if that’s something students are interested in.
The best part though, was being able to kind of find my own voice. I felt like I opened up and was able to spread the message we were representing, voting and exercising your right to vote. Your voice is important. We’re coming for these polls! Even if they say we’re too young.
I was so inspired in so little time, and if I could be inspired that much from merely visiting college for a weekend, imagine all I will do once I’m actually a student, getting to live it all myself.
College is gonna be awesome!