Hattie is a 7th grader from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She loves running track and is currently researching what kind of college degree she wants to earn.
Prologue: I believe the stories we tell one another have the power to change the world. Especially the stories we tell one another about ourselves.
As a society, we focus so much of our attention on the bold-faced “success stories” of CEOs and best-selling authors, the famous and infamous. We get accustomed to glossy, polished anecdotes that are fun to read but hard to relate to. Too often — especially during these times of isolation and separation — we miss the remarkable stories that live all around us.
The neighbor across the street.
The woman behind the cash register.
The co-worker we see every day.
Captivating, inspiring, powerful stories live inside each of us. This series celebrates those stories with 15 interviews of women whose voices you likely haven’t heard before. (Since March is Women’s History Month, it seems like the perfect time for it.) I asked each of these women to share some of their personal story, and talk about how they have found — or are still finding — their own voice.
Today, we hear from Hattie.
In her own words:
I first realized I was a feminist when I saw females getting treated differently just because they are female.
What is your family like?
Nice and unique.
How has the culture you’re raised in informed your ideas about what a woman is supposed to be — how she should look, act, and speak?
She can look, act, talk, and dress any type of way.
What are three words a new acquaintance might use to describe you?
Unique, confident, and self-assertive.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Self-assertive, fast, and chill.
What aspect of your identity gives you the most strength?
My skin color. Without my melanin I wouldn’t be the same, and I don’t think I would be as confident.
How do you most enjoy expressing your ideas and identity?
What gets you out of bed in the morning on the worst of days?
My Bryson Tiller playlist!
How did the all the upheaval of the pandemic and everything else in 2020 affect the things you love to do?
I learned that I can adjust to things in a different way.
What or who in your life history most shaped your values?
MLK, all the things that happened back in the day to Black folks, and the Black Lives Matter protests. It shaped my values because I noticed how important I am for people to protest every day for me and my people’s right.
How does your community share your values?
BLM signs in their yard; and whether they’re a person of color or not, they care.
What fears hold you back?
I don’t really have fears, maybe dying. But we all fear that, I guess.
What fears did you overcome this past year?
None. I’m not a person who gets afraid of things.
Tell us about a time when you felt silenced.
I was in ELA class and me and my friend were drawing for a project.We decided to color our skin pitch-black instead of brown to show that we are proud to be BLACK.
My white teacher took it the wrong way and told us we weren’t black. Luckily me and my best friend are confident Black people, so we didn’t listen to her…but deep down we felt silenced, because it felt like she didn’t care.
Who is a woman whose voice you really respect?
My mom’s and Tiana Bartoletta (she’s an Olympian).
How do you want to use your voice in the future?
I want to use it as a strong Black woman speaking nothing but facts 100%.
Read more VOICES…
Jamae Tasker is a Warrior of Love
Shayna Hodkin is a Spellbinding Poet
Sam McWilliams is an Intrepid Cliff Jumper
Elizabeth Schroeder is a Swashbuckling Peacemaker
Nikka Diaz is a Natural-Born Empath
Kelly Galeano Arce is a Dauntless Truth Seeker
Tiffany Miller is a Nurturer of Dreams
Emma Rekha Marty is a Guardian of Hope
Natalie Patrice Tucker is a Mother of Dragons
Ruth T. is a Queen of Hearts
Tetyana Borshch is a Radical Daydreamer
Brittani West is a World Class Risk Taker
Tiffani Jones Brown is a Lionhearted Listener
Kathy Azada is a Bright Side Enthusiast
The titles for the VOICES Series come from Exercise #2 in the Permission to Speak Workbook. The exercise, “You have more power than you know,” encourages participants to choose a title from a list that is offered, or — if none of those titles feels right — to make up one of their own.
“Each of us is our own harshest critic, most of the time,” the workbook says. “We don’t always see ourselves as we are. We instinctively try to hide many things about ourselves — our failures, our mistakes, our weaknesses, our obsessions. …But the things that make you you also give you power.”
Each woman interviewed for the VOICES Series either chose a title for herself from this list, or gave herself a title of her own making based on the prompt, “When I hold my power, I am a …”