Our Lives Matter
Our Lives Matter
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.
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!