By Stephanie Younger •
Speech at Women’s March RVA + Expo 2019 •
At an age where I was extremely self-conscious about the way I looked as a Black girl, people would rather comment on my body than my intellect. At age 14, people attempted to stereotype, isolate and discredit me for my work. When I asked out of frustration why they were erasing me from my work, the adults accused me of being “ungracious,” and “acting out.” The only other female programmer was a self-proclaimed “feminist” who attended the Women’s March, and didn’t show up for me as she watched me experiencing misogynoir. I responded to that misogynoir by leaving that robotics team, and starting a coding program for other Black girls so they wouldn’t have to ensure what I went through.
At age 15, I faced more misogynoir by a group of “gun violence prevention activists.” in Richmond when I held them accountable for ignoring the voices. They harassed me on the internet, and excluded me and multiple Black students from their protest, further showing their insensitivity to the experiences of Black youth, who experience gun violence at disproportionate rates. After being called out for excluding Black youth, that organizing group in RVA no longer exists.
It was imperative to maintain resilience by standing by what you believe in, in spite of those who erase our narratives, and in spite of those who refuse to show up for causes that challenge issues that may not directly affect them. After learning about the work of Black feminists such as Alice Walker, Kimberle Crenshaw and Angela Davis, I realized that imperative as Black folks to create our own table, rather than asking for a seat at the table where our authentic selves are not welcomed.
Stephanie Younger is a 16-year-old who advocates for womanism and the abolition of youth prisons.