Author, Moashella Shortte, on youth, writing, and "the joy in the coming together of Black folk"
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She co-founded Learning4YoungMinds, a company that offers workshops on teaching empathy and socialization to young children, anti-racism training for educators, and writing support for BIPOC youth.
Moashella is one of the three co-facilitators of a youth writing and self-expression workshop at the National Black Canadians Summit taking place in Halifax from July 29-31.
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Read our Q&A with Moashella to learn more about her thoughts on the power of poetry, the Black experience, and mentorship at the Summit.
A: As Black people, our true power lies in the distinct tone our voices it frees us to harness the wisdom of our ancestors, it facilitates the flow of joy and support found in community with kinfolks and it bestows on us a deliberate path to the world around us and the universe within us.
For far too long that voice has been tampered with and often silenced by those that have always been keenly aware of its power. But not now - no more! We are gathering our people and we are raising our voices, reclaiming our stories, and writing our narrative beautifully – as it was intended to be written from the start. The Black experience is our experience, and we will tell it in our voice, we know its value and will continue to lay claim to it.
Q: What is one thing you hope the youth will take away from the Summit?
A: My hope is that the youth will leave the summit knowing the full value of their lived experience and that of their heritage. They will find validation in community and renew their determination to create spaces where there is no need to explain or excuse their excellence - set on a route to exceed their ancestors' wildest dreams.
Q: Which poem or quote are you most proud of having written and why?
A: The piece of written work that I am most proud of is my first published children's book Mirror. Mirror was initially written as an affirmation poem for my daughter, in an attempt to preserve her natural love for and total acceptance of self; it was published as a book to encourage the same in others, especially those that have historically been told that they are undeserving of such.
It's her! She's back, like I thought she would be.
I love her and will always tell her so.
I will give her all she needs to develop and grow."
Q: Which book by a Black author do you think everyone should read and why?
A: How can one even begin to choose a single must-read Black author, much less one book?! But, I would say The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Toni is the epitome of what, I would imagine, living in our Black bodies with full human status would be like. She knows us because she is us; she wrote in a voice we understand because it's our voice and she was gifted with the ability to breathe hope into even the darkest corners of our collective experience.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share about poetry, storytelling, mentorship, or the Summit?
A: "There is joy in the coming together of Black folk; it fills the space we share, it's bigger than our imagination and cannot be explained by the tongue, it's consistently tenacious and it's ours."
If the phenomenal energy that I experienced while gathering with the participants and co-facilitators during our two pre-summit sessions of the Write Us Beautiful writing workshop is any indicator of what can be expected at the 2022 National Black Canadians Summit, then I have high hopes that there will be an explosion of Black joy in those rooms!
Tickets to attend the National Black Canadian's Summit in person are sold out, but you can still register for live stream access and join from anywhere! Register for the live stream now and join the conversation.
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