This blog post was written by Daleelah Saleh, a mentee. The workshop was on January 28, 2017.
One of the hardest things about being a young girl of color is finding books that you feel like could’ve been written about you. As an avid reader, that was always something I struggled with and wanted to work towards changing. But as of late, it was pushed to the back of my mind.
Jamilah King, who was the craft speaker at the morning session of the mentee mid-year, brought it back to the forefront of my mind. She told us that the most pivotal moment in her childhood was the first time she read a book that made her feel like she was seeing herself in writing, and all around me, people nodded their heads in agreement. She reminded us that representation matters. I remembered, then, all the ideas for stories I had, stories I wish had been available to me when I was growing up. I remembered how important it was for me to write those stories.
Jamilah’s next words seemed to echo my thoughts: “There’s a lot of power in telling yourself: I am a writer. And I have a story to tell, and I’m going to tell it. Because if I don’t, who will?” Looking around the room, at my fellow GWN mentees, a surge of hope shot through me. There was no doubt in my mind that with our stories, we had the power to help change the narrative; to make sure other girls would be able to grow up with books they could relate to, and books in which they were the superhero and not the villain.
Other words of wisdom Jamilah imparted upon us: It can be difficult establishing yourself/making a name for yourself in a world that seems to want to see you fail, but that’s why sisterhood is important. Make connections with people— they will open doors for you and lift you up, and vice versa. And be stubborn. Advocate for yourself. Remember that you deserve a place in this world just as much as the next person. And never forget how powerful you are.