Visit The Phyl Campbell Website

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Find Your Voice to Fight Discrimination


Last month, two of my young friends were stopped and searched for "shopping while black." And that's not OK. Even worse, the store employee knew my friends' mother, who is a rising star in our community. So how many other people, especially young people, have been trying to enjoy their summers only to be accosted in this way? Maybe not by this employee. Maybe not at this store. But in esteem-damaging, unjust, and just awful ways, all the same.

As a parent, as a teacher, as an adult, as a white person -- I want to fix things. And that isn't always practical. I can't always be where my young friends are. And sometimes adults try to fix things for young people when they should (we should) be helping young people fix problems for themselves. Even if it isn't the way we (adults) would do it.


As a writing coach for young people, I (like to think I) understand that better than most. And after talking to my friends' mom, realized how I thought I could help.

Find Your Voice (to fight discrimination) is a twice-monthly workshop where young people age 12-20 can gather in a safe space and talk and write about their feelings and reactions to discrimination they have experienced. Racial discrimination sparked this, but all forms of discrimination may be addressed by young people who need a safe space to do so. I can never know what it means to be black or brown, but I still experience discrimination as a woman and as a fat person. We have an administration that has come out strongly against anyone with a minority label - color, nationality, gender, orientation. It isn't right, and we need to resist it. I also remember being watched more carefully as a teen -- people didn't trust me because I wasn't an adult. It wasn't right, and it wasn't fair. Now I can help others work to change it.

I'm going to sponsor the group and help in any way I can, but students are going to be in charge and tell me what they need instead of the other way around. If they want to learn how to write OpEds for the paper, I will help them from the writing to figuring out how to submit to an editor. If they want to be on TV or the radio, I will help them navigate that process. If they want to start a literary magazine at their school, I will help them do that. And if all they want is a safe space to talk and write, I will respect that, too.

Find Your Voice will be held the FIRST and FOURTH Thursdays of the month at GUSA by Victoria in downtown York, WECO district (252 W Philadelphia Street), starting August 24th. In addition, FYV members (as well as the general public) are invited to open mic 2nd Thursdays, also at GUSA, emceed by yours truly!


Phyl Campbell is the author of I'm Not Writing a Book Today, the so-called procrastination guide for writers and other dreamers, and a number of other books in various genres (available on Amazon). Books she has published for young authors can be found on her website. They are also available on Amazon under their own authors and titles. Campbell lives and teaches in York County, PA.