Youth Voice: Thanks, Mom, for Joining Me

Over the summer, ThreeSixty Journalism opened a call for youth to weigh in on recent events in the community. Students were asked to submit audio, visual, and written entries in response to a youth-inspired prompt. The latest #360YouthVoiceChallenge is open to all high school students through Nov. 15, 2020. This fall, the #360YouthVoiceChallenge comes with its own Youth Voice Workshop, wherein students can work on writing personal essays and editorials that they may submit to the #360YouthVoiceChallenge. 

Indigo Davitt-Liu, junior at Fair Downtown School

Dear Ma,

I just wanted to say thank you for taking me out to Lake Street and Hiawatha after the uprising. It was there where we saw the raw human emotion that occurs after tragedies—we saw the graffiti, we saw the trash, we saw the burning buildings and we saw the conversation. It is where I saw the destruction and resilience of the  community. We eventually ended up at the memorial site, leaving flowers and prayers, along with many others who left in grief and had already started to heal the land.

#360YouthVoiceChallenge: Summer 2020

I’ve been out to the memorial many times, just as you have. You said, “My experience is different every time I visit.” I understand the sentiment. The second time I came to the memorial, I saw volunteers cooking, artists creating and poets speaking. It reminded me of the community festivals that filled my childhood summers in North Minneapolis. Seeing art, people and community generated around the memorial was all evidence that the memorial, and therefore the movement, would be a permanent fixture of Minnesota. I haven’t been out recently, though. I’m scared of seeing the memorial diminishing, scared that the uprising we thought was happening was a release of pent-up anger and all the “successes” were just lip service. I suppose this may just be the disappointment due to the naive optimism of youth. And of course, our community is resilient and deeper than a single event.

Ma, you once said that “becoming anti-racist is a series of awakenings.” I hope this provided the beginning of awakenings for generations of white people. I hope the words shared during protests stick in the memories of our generation.

Finally, Ma, I hope this history is recorded. I hope the slight disorganizations (i.e. the times the mic cut out) are documented next to the beauty of everyone involved. I hope in the future we’ll be able to look into archives and find the stories people shouted into bullhorns, the stories shared atop a quickly put together stage and the words we chanted together with our fists in the air.