I faintly recall the first time I had an out of body experience. It was in the younger years of my life, somewhere between the ages of 6 and 7. I was sitting on the edge of my great-grandmother’s bed, whining a childlike whine about not wanting to miss dragon tales. Usually when I did this, I would get my way, but in this moment, Zack and Wheezy were the last things on my great-grandmother’s mind. On her screen, was the scene in roots where Kunta Kinte hung and struggled under the reign of his masters whip, sacrificing his life for the legacy of his name. I remember dropping to her floor, my eyes not leaving the television through the duration of the episode. I left my granny’s room with a great sadness for all the things I learned that men who look like Kunta Kinte endured. I remember growing through high school learning about tragic American stories in reference to my people, and being able to count on one hand the amount of hero tales I heard. This stimulated a love/hate relationship with my history, loving my past because I had to, but not because I felt the desire to. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school, that I started to receive information (based on personal research) about some of the wonderful contributions my people had made to American and world history. This new narrative of cultural history gave me strength to love my people for more than what we’ve overcome, but for the fullness of our story and greatness. This yearn to understand more about my people is the reason why my grades were at their pinnacle during the month of February, and why Black history is still my favorite subject.
Fast forward to about two weeks ago, I was encouraged by my coworkers to attend a “Black Stories Matter” open mic at Rufus King Middle school. I’d be lying if I said I was optimistic to go. I had a long day and was eager for a hot date with my bed. But not long after I got there, my soul was restored of all its energy. It was very refreshing to see a large group of Black students be so in tune with both the beautiful and painful part of their experience. I was blessed to represent Ex Fabula by attending two Black Stories Matter events sponsored by MPS(Milwaukee Public Schools), LIT(Leaders Igniting Transformation) and BLM(Black Lives Matter) Week of Action. I remember listening to the youth and seeing myself in their excitement. One of the most beautiful moments, was watching a 12-year-old Black girl rehearse in her seat, excited to give her all to Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” poem. I felt reconnected to the part of me that loves to hear about Blackness and all its beauty. It got me thinking about how vital it is that stories are told to Black youth that encapsulate the beauty of our culture. We must continue to fight and document our place in American history through stories. Platforms like Ex Fabula and BLM Week of Action are great ways to guarantee that our stories continue to be told.