Be COLOR BRAVE
The feeling of invisibility is powerful. It is also painful, harrowing, and isolating. I remember in middle school and the beginning of high school feeling exactly this way. I was invisible to my peers. I did not look like the popular girl in school, and my peers knew it. They never said anything, but just their body language was enough. I could read their faces and know what they were thinking. They isolated me; forced me to create my own bubble and world because I was not allowed to engage in theirs. This invisibility ended once I realized that I was worthy enough to employ in the world everyone was kicking me out of.
Now imagine this world extending beyond the high school context. Imagine a world your hesitantly allowed to engage in, being right outside your front door. For Africans in America, and other minorities, this is their everyday life. There is a "popular girl and boy" in society. They are the skin color white, tall, fit, thin, blue eyes, beautiful long flowing hair; everything that Africans are not. African and other minorities feel every single day what I experienced for 5 years in school. Mellody Hobson in her Ted Talk Color Blind, or Color Brave?, illustrates her experiences of how society has tried to push her into her own bubble. And how they continually are marginalizing other Africans and minorities in our world. She explained the popular boys in society (white males) only make up 30% of our population, however they make up 70% of all corporate board seats. How is this possible? This is possible because we are ignoring, and choosing to ignore, the over qualified people of color that can fill these positions. Hobson argues this point, because it is a quantifiable fact, and a real statistic in America. These are not facts she is making up, but reality that she is just shining a bright light on. This oppression is the foundation for invisibility. The popular kids are not allowing Africans or other minorities to engage in their fun; forcing them to create their own worlds and means of making money. Whether that may be selling drugs or joining a gang to achieve some power in their environment, it is ultimately the "cool kids" (whites) who have pressured the "uncool kids" to do this. I was pushed to create my own kind of power in school by getting good grades. I was lucky enough to push my anger and deprivation of power into something positive and beneficial, because I felt powerful getting better grades than the cool kids, but in this societal context, even good education is not always granted to people of color. So their way of breaking out of the invisibility is by creating their own noise, power, and world. Hobson also explains that color blindness is not real, and I agree. Color blindness is just a way for us to ignore real issues with race and avoid any conflict, or debate about it. People see color, bottom line. If you have eyeballs in the front of your head that work correctly, than you can see the difference in skin tones. So why not embrace those tones? Embrace the "difference" and talk about it. Make it aware so that when an African child watches T.V., or even just leaves their home, they see themselves in the world around them. Allow them to KNOW that they CAN participate in this world, and that they CAN and ARE just as worthy to participate in it than the "cool kids" that are making them feel otherwise.
I feel as though Youth in Actions mission is to reduce the amount of youth that feel powerless in this world. They are on a mission to empower, and inspire these oppressed youth to fill in those board chairs, and to be represented in corporate America, and every other institution or context where whites are over represented. YIA also educates their youth on how to empower their peers and communities to feel worthy enough know they are important. YIA is providing future generations with the tools necessary to leave their imprint in this world we so forcefully push them out of.