(R)EVOLUTION: The 2016 Girls Write Now Anthology

One of the classes that I have thoroughly enjoyed taking this semester has been Girl Culture. In this class, we examine the various narratives that different types of girls, such as Black, Latina, Muslim, LGBTQ, Trans, Undocumented etc., want to create for themselves. We read a series of poems from the Girls Write Now Anthology from 2016 at the beginning of the semester. The series of poems and stories arise from a mentoring program, in which young girls from New York City public high schools are mentored by women in their writing process, but in other aspects of their life as well. It is something I wish I could have been a part of when I was younger.

It is no mistake that the 2016 Anthology was titled (R)EVOLUTION. In a time where we seemed to be heading backward and not forward, this anthology explores the ways these girls and their mentors want to create change in their communities and throughout our country. It gives these girls a voice, one that also provides power and a vehicle towards change. It also provides them with the power to decide how they want to be viewed by the world when, oftentimes, their narratives are dictated by others who are deemed more powerful.

One of the first poems we read was titled Hating on The Hate U Give, which explores the way public school systems have banned certain books that are deemed inappropriate. In this case, Diamond Lewis, a senior in Brooklyn, NY, explores the negative effects that can arise from banning the book The Hate U Give. She states, “It is impossible not to think that language was perhaps just a scapegoat for the ban, and that the real reason for keeping the book out of schools was because it confronts realities about racism.” Books are an important tool to portray messages but to also increase representation. Diamond then states, “Banning books mutes the voices of the characters within.” Diamond acknowledges the importance a book can have within our society and by muting the characters you are also muting the lessons we can learn.

Another story we read was titled Fire and this was from the point of view of a mentor named Amy Flyntz. At the beginning of her short narrative, she states, “Overwhelmed by the constant attacks on our democracy and the egregious assaults on the environment and our civil liberties, I have sometimes struggled to find my place in the resistance. This piece was inspired by the theme Generation F: fire, fearlessness, and finding my voice.”

She takes a very creative spin on this piece by describing her experiencing meeting with her acupuncturist and explaining the painful symptoms she has been feeling, such as dry lips, dry, itchy patches on her neck and ankles etc. Her acupuncturist then goes on to state that she is holding something within and that “the fire within her needs to be released.” She states, “I think of everything I want to say-have to say that I’m not saying. I think of DACA, sexual violence against women, the kids in Florida who were gunned down, systematic incarceration of black men and much more.” I enjoyed this piece because it demonstrates a narrative from an ally, someone who feels the need to support and also speak against the injustices occurring. It was also quite an innovative narrative. I was slightly confused where it was going at first, but when I got to the end, all the dots connected.

I am grateful to have been able to get a glimpse into this mentoring program, one that appears to be intersectional and intergenerational. Hearing the voices of the young girls reminded me of myself when I was younger. It is quite inspirational.

Girls Write Now has also recently released the Generation F anthology. To learn more, visit their website: https://www.girlswritenow.org/

Source: Girls Write Now

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About the Author

Yesika Sorto Andino is a junior at UNC Charlotte majoring in Political Science and double minoring in Public Health and Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies. An aspiring United Nations diplomat, she hopes to one day work in Geneva to combat injustices occurring throughout the world. She is very keen on stargazing and hopes to travel throughout the world and see the brightest night skies someday. While she is not contemplating the complexities of life, she is watching the West Wing while eating chocolate and drinking sweet tea.