BNV14 – Breaking Free

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Will Through the Winter

“To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,” Hamlet 3.1

Chris Rock and Questlove made a call out to artists to make something great out of the national heartbreak that we’ve shared this fall. We’ve all spent a lot of time fretting over what we each feel has been the problem of the last few weeks. The best thing way that I thought of to contribute to this moment is by sharing some of the most hopeful experiences I had this year, at Brave New Voices in Philadelphia.


I wrote about Brave New Voices last year and haven’t gotten around to sharing any of the new videos that I edited as part of the BNV Online Crew, along with Dimitri Moore. I’ll get more into that story another time but this post is about the leaders that await the opportunity to fix the problems of our day. These are some of their thoughts on Housing and Isolation

About Home.

“Home is always on your toes and learning to like it there” – Voice of the future

I love this video for the range of perspective that it carries. Young people from around the country wake up to realities that they all share. Joker, at the end, intrigues me the most. I could never have spoken about my feelings the way he does at his age. I can barely get the words out now.

“Let my every flaw define me.” – Joker

Break Free.

That’s how good this is and that’s how good school should be. Period.” – Voice of the future

Break Free was the theme for all the Town Halls but one young lady’s voice struck me enough to petition Dimitri and the higher ups to give her a stand alone video. They agreed that I could, after getting all the other videos done. This is where the universe plays a strange part in the story. I had some ethical questions about whether I could throw her story out to the wolves. She shared it in a safe space and I wasn’t sure if she was comfortable with me amplifying it for the world to see. Then, out of the blue, KJ Taylor pops her head into the back room of the theatre where a bunch of us had set up shop. She had no business being there. There may have even been a sign telling her to stay out but she poked her head in, smiled and excused herself… I’m still not sure if it was coincidence or divine intervention.

Telling her that I’d seen her speak and asking her permission to share her story with the world made me as nervous as any job interview, film pitch or first day of class. Telling her mother that I’d already spoken to my superiors about the clip and how it embodied the spirit of the Town Halls made me as proud as any graduation commencement, student evaluation or performance review. Today, thinking back about how I was able to take a situation that could have gotten a young person in trouble and make it into an opportunity to reinforce her willingness to take risks, I don’t know how that makes me feel. Grateful to those that have taken a risk on me?

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