by August Harp
What is the Youth Media Project? Is it a summer camp? Is it a group of journalists? Is it the Marilyn Monroe cut-out that greets us at the door? The Youth Media Project is a group of young adults using the pencil to defeat the sword-wielding stereotypes that are handcuffed to young people, especially Mississippi youth.
What is YMP all about to me?
When I press this lead against the smooth white paper it will leave a line, dark and grainy, which I will move and make my mark on this paper. I could finish writing this essay, or I could scribble all over this paper, which I won’t … but I could. When it’s all said and done, I can erase anything and everything I write or I could turn this essay into something. But how? How can I use a blog post on my experience in YMP to change the perception of a total stranger?
My pencil’s lead breaks. For a moment, my pencil has taken me over. It has forced me to get up to sharpen it—this pencil owns this brief frustration. This pencil has now taken me and forced me to acknowledge its presence. This pencil, although for only a moment, has gone from a mere pawn to a king.
Society will continue to try and hold us down. They will continue to try to write our story. We are all pencils the stereotypes are using to hold us down. However, we can break our leads, and we can be acknowledged. Each story we put in into the public's hands should be our lead breaking.
Sometimes it feels like the state is pressing my lead against the smooth white paper. I am making a mark—but is it my mark? Is a story written for all of its readers to appreciate, accept and then praise. Is it really mine?
In the Youth Media Project, our job is to bring attention to issues facing young people, the Jackson area, Mississippi, the nation. Our job is to challenge the norm. Our job is to give young people a voice that will hopefully be heard, critiqued and acted upon. Our job is to make our own stories, not anyone else's. Our stories need to be our story, not a copy-and-paste article with a clickbait headline like we see so often in today's media. We need to break our leads. For a moment, we can take control of the stereotypes trying to write and control our stories.