In this week’s installment of the Spotlight Series, we bring you a conversation with Destiné Price, a 19 year old writer from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Destiné uses her poetry to explore how racism works as a social construct and how this system works to shape perspectives. Check out our interview with Destiné below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I currently live in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a community that I have been a part of all my life and will continue to be a part of, even in the midst of a recent move to Detroit. I attended Kalamazoo College until my junior year and am currently transferring to Wayne State University with a major in Sociology and minor in Criminal Justice. I worked for a non-profit organization called Read and Write Kalamazoo where I was the Volunteer Coordinator until recently, due to my move. I started as an intern the summer going into my sophomore year and immediately fell in love with Read and Write’s mission to empower youth voices via creativity, joy, equity, and access. I used a lot of my time there volunteering in RAWK’s in-school program called the Readers’ Room at Lincoln International Studies where I worked beside 3rd graders. I also serve as a youth leader with TRHT Kalamazoo (Truth, Racial Healing, Transformation) working to engage Kalamazoo’s youth with the issues they face in our community by providing them tools for advocacy.
What is your earliest memory of activism?
Activism takes many shapes and forms, so for me as a child that looked like questioning when I recognized an issue at hand. A close family member of mine was being pulled over by a police officer and was being held roughly. I knew instantly that what was happening was not right, this was my first account of racial profiling. That same day this conversation began to take place in my household and continues to today.
Our educational system is one that is responsible for the socialization of our youth in this country which perpetuates hierarchal systems of humanity, racial scripts , and the supremacy of whiteness.
How old were you when you first realized you could make a difference in your community?
As a child I was always writing and reading. Admiring the lives of “game-changers” was always something that interested me and the power of words astonished me. It wasn’t until I began to read aloud my words and see the power within using my own voice that I knew I could make change within my community. I participated in Western Michigan’s MLK Courage to Create Poetry Competition in 2015 where I read a poem- that for me was a release of everything I had held inside. Speaking a truth then that was felt and understood by my community has guided the truths I speak today.
Tell us about a social problem you are trying to solve.
Our educational system is one that is responsible for the socialization of our youth in this country which perpetuates hierarchal systems of humanity, racial scripts , and the supremacy of whiteness. The problematic narratives that are presented to us as truths in classrooms create misconceptions of reality and shroud the perceptions we have of our radicalized self and “self-self”. Bringing the truth to our histories, awareness to youth, and the means to advocate for ourselves are the reasons behind my fight. I have been in the process of expanding my knowledge and speaking up against processes that aim to maintain these problematic ideologies by speaking up on the radio in my community and holding community meetings to bring awareness to the social studies curriculum proposals facing Michigan under the Michigan Department of Education. I have continued this work by participating in committees held to make suggestions to the changes that have been proposed and continuing ongoing projects with TRHT to bring advocacy resources to youth in our community.
Do you think it’s important for young people to be involved in civic engagement programs like SLP?
I think it is absolutely necessary for children and teens to be engaged in civic engagement programs like SLP because we are the future and it is our job to hold not only ourselves accountable but others who are a part of those systems that create and maintain issues that face our communities today. It is important to know your rights and know how to protect yourselves and others when facing an issue. It is important to learn and be open to growth. It is important to understand your position within issues that face us and the solutions to those issues. We all play a vital role and you have the power to make a difference small and big. You are so so important.
We are the future and it is our job to hold not only ourselves accountable but others who are a part of those systems that create and maintain issues that face our communities today.
If you could give other student activists one piece of advice, what would it be?
Stay true to yourself and take care of yourself. You deserve your patience, your care, and your truth. You deserve you and don’t let nobody take that away from you. Be strong and soft. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up for what is yours, your humanity is sacred and no one has the right to take that away. Be a leader and remember we are the future!
If you are interested in learning more about Destiné and her work, check out this video of her speaking at The Martin Luther King, Jr. “Courage to Create” Celebration Ceremony.
Thank you to the International Congress of Youth Voices for helping SLP to reach Rachel!
The International Congress of Youth Voices unites students, ages 16 to 20, from around the world to learn with and from accomplished writers, activists, and elected officials. Founded by author Dave Eggers (co-founder of 826 National) and nonprofit leader Amanda Uhle, the inaugural event took place August 3, 4, and 5, 2018, in San Francisco. Youth delegates came to us from the United States, Iraq, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Syria, Ireland, Australia, Iceland, Burundi, Honduras, Cuba, Denmark, Venezuela, Zambia, and Nepal.
Politics of the world affect young people as much as anyone else, and they have little to no voice as major decisions are made. The Congress was founded as a means to amplify their ideas and energy and to unite young people for a weekend of collaboration. Student delegates are chosen based on their commitment to leadership and social justice and their passion and eloquence as writers. The event is designed to provide a path to leadership for all delegates and represents a continuum from students who have exhibited potential in local writing and tutoring programs to writers and activists who have already made notable achievements at a very young age.