For Women’s History Month, we sat down with Latifah, an eighth-grader at AF Hartford Summit Middle, to learn more about who and what inspires her.
When the incomparable writer Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” she may well have been speaking directly to Latifah.
The mention of the word “writing” lights Latifah up. She doesn’t just love writing paragraphs and essays at school, she also spends hours of her free time composing poetry. The art appeals to her, but it’s more than that. She also loves to write because of the ability and power it gives her to express herself, to make her voice heard, and to tell her story.
When Latifah hears Toni Morrison’s quote, she hears it as a call to discuss the issues that society has failed to address. If you experience those types of problems – or see someone else who has – you have to write about those own experiences and make them known, she says.
Latifah is a big fan of changing the narrative.
For her, that means embracing her uniqueness as a person. It means stepping outside of the box and thinking about things people have never considered. And it means never confining herself to others’ expectations.
She sees “you must write it,” as a charge to all people, regardless of age. She knows she has a voice, and that other young people have brilliant thoughts, writings, and experiences to share.
That’s where Latifah’s passion for writing intersects her passion for advocacy.
She cares about her peers, how they’re doing, how they feel, and what they can all do together to help the community. Latifah sees her teachers as advocates who help inspire her and her classmates to connect, protest, and get involved. She’s passionate about making a difference in movements for Black Lives Matter and women’s rights.
The knowledge that if a story hasn’t yet been told, you must write it, fueled the searing prose that made Toni Morrison one of our country’s most iconic writers.
It’s important and powerful to see someone like yourself in a story. And so many of our scholars will be able to see themselves in the resounding words Latifah is already writing.
Everywhere throughout American history, we can look to the influence of women. Read more on our blog.