Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The One With Making Space With Open Mic

This month, I'm participating in the Slice of Life challenge with Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post or you can head on over there to check out other people's stories and follow along with the fun. For more information on what a Slice of Life is about, you can go here

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Maybe you've read Mike Jung's post, No More All-Male Panels: a pledge in solidarity with #kidlitwomen, and Laurel Snyder's post,  No More All-White Panels: A PLEDGE. Mike calls for males in kidlit to pledge to not participate in all-male panels and Laurel calls for everyone in kidlit to pledge to not participate in all-white panels. Both of these are examples of how kidlit creators are working to make space for voices that haven't had an equitable opportunity in the past. I'm glad they are bringing attention to this and asking others to pay attention to this. 

This sends the message:

I believe in women and people of color. 

I believe in their stories, their ideas, their voices.

I believe in making space for women and people of color to use their voices. 

I hope and believe it also means, 

I believe in people from other underrepresented groups such as but not limited to people who are LGBTQIA, who have disabilities, and who are Native American. 

Making space is important. 

It's not about finding our voices, it's about having the opportunity to share our voices and for our voices to be heard. 

For me, bringing open mic to our middle school is a way I can help make space for student voices. Young people need to know their voices matter. 

Last May, I took my older son to hear Representative John Lewis and Andrew Aydin speak about their graphic novel book series, March. They shared how it came to be that John Lewis helped created a graphic novel and in telling this story, they talked about The Montgomery Story and how John Lewis remembers being inspired by this comic. He also shared how important young people were in the Civil Rights Movement and how important young people still are as activists today. In fact, when it came time to answer questions, John Lewis would only take questions from young people in the audience.

Young people matter and their words matter. That's why bringing open mic and spoken word to students is so exciting to me. Open mic gives students countless ways to express ourselves. It can be whatever it needs to be but in its simplest form, open mic is the opportunity to weave words together to share a message. 

I'm not a good singer so writing lyrics and singing a song is not my thing but the simplicity in spoken word allows for me to get up and share my voice however they want. (In saying this I really don't mean it's easy to write words, share your truth, perform in front of others, but I mean simplicity in the sense that it doesn't require having to carry a tune or to play an instrument.) This is part of the beauty of open mic. Anyone can join, everyone is invited.

I hope having an open mic sends the message: 

I believe in young people. 

I believe in their stories, their ideas, their voices.

I believe in making space for young people to use their voices. 

I believe.

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