Our Lives Matter

JPEG square BSP2 cook cover.jpg
JPEG square BSP2 cook cover.jpg

Our Lives Matter

14.99

ISBN: 978-0692455388

2015 INDIEFAB Finalist: YA Nonfiction Book of the Year

2015 INDIEFAB Finalist: Child Author Book of the Year

Proceeds from book sales go to a Ballou HS scholarship fund and to empower new authors.

Through the course of a historic year of civil unrest and the emergence of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, thirty teen writers from Frank W. Ballou High School in Washington, DC came together to take part in this national conversation about race, inequality, violence, and justice. Through their powerful, personal stories these writers intend to Change the Narrative about youth of color. We are not thugs, they say. We are not victims. We are big sisters and sports stars, academic strivers and everyday heroes. We speak out for justice. We dream big dreams. These writers want more for themselves, more for their community, more for their generation. And they are challenging their readers to listen, and to recognize in each story a common humanity worthy of dignity, support, and respect. This riot of voices must be heard. Learn more.

 

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The Story Behind The Story

The idea for this year's Ballou Story Project began with a photograph that Ballou HS teacher Shajena Erazo posted to Instagram. It was a stack of looseleaf papers covered in impassioned student writing. Why so ready to write? It was the day after the Ferguson decision. Students needed a place to process.

At that moment we decided that our next edition of the Ballou Story Project needed to give these students a chance to take part in the ongoing national conversation about race, inequality, violence, and justice. At a school where 99% of the student body identifies as black, and where many have felt their own lives devalued or discounted, the #BlackLivesMatter message resonates, and it calls to action. We decided to create our own Riot of Voices.   

These writers set out with a specific goal: Change the Narrative. Stories are powerful shapers of behavior, and the stories all too often understood about young people of color, especially those from under-resourced communities, are about low expectations. Police who "just know you up to no good." Outsiders who make assumptions about your character. Even peers or adults who don't push you to be your best selves. These writers want more for themselves, more for their community, more for their generation. And they are challenging their readers to LISTEN, to recognize in each writer's story a common humanity worthy of dignity, support, and respect. 

We are thrilled to partner again with Shootback for incredible self- and other-portraits of our authors, and grateful that poet, activist, and educator Kyle Dargan will write the Foreword. This is not a book to be missed. Order your copy now.

Finish Line Photos

We snapped some pics of writers right after they finished their pieces. Check out these proud authors! 

Excerpts

Maybe one day we will come across each other on the street and I could be your boss or your doctor. I could teach your children. I could write the book that inspires you. I could potentially save you with my knowledge, or my skills, or my words. Would you think that I matter then?
— Carl Brown, Ballou HS author
I don’t want to prove them right,
I want to prove them wrong.
I don’t want people to think,
“Oh, she not gon’ get nowhere”
“She gon’ get pregnant before she get out of high school”
“She not gon’ make it through”
NO!
I’m the girl who’s gonna finish school,
I’m gonna graduate when I’m supposed to,
I’m gonna finish college, scholarship or not.
I’m the girl who already published two books by the age of 15.
— Darne'sha Walker, Ballou HS author
The things I do help build my community,
and I’m breaking the stereotype that black males don’t help or have any ambition.
— Randy Sams, Ballou HS author

We're excited that poet and AU professor Kyle Dargan is writing the Foreword for this collection. Watch his smart and compassionate take on life East of the River, why he chooses to live there, and how poetry can offer solace, create empathy.

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