What is Black? By Brandon Kelly

What is black? As defined by Google, black is the “darkest color, the result of absence or complete absorption of visible light.” Through the eyes of many, black is just a color. It may represent separation, or evil, an overall negative look. To me, black is more than just a color, black is culture.  Aspects of the culture can be seen sprinkled in American life in a multitude of ways. It can be seen in religion, hip- hop, food...the list goes on. Black is swagger that only a few can have. To me, black culture isn’t just about the March on Washington, or breaking barriers, or doing the impossible. It is the community, together.  When times are tough, we come together, and black don’t crack. Black culture is also about going over the set bars, as did Gabby Douglas, former President Barack Obama, and Sammy Davis Jr. Within the culture, it’s one thing to reach the bar, but it’s another to surpass it. Black is strong, black is powerful, and black don’t crack. So, what is black?

**Launch: EDITOR'S NOTE**

A Message from Steph and Cecilia

Many times in our careers, we’ve been told to hold back so as to not disrupt the narrative. It is through art and education that we found our voice and our strength. We are challenged every single day, all of us, to remain positive despite what is going on around us. We believe that storytelling and expression is a way to connect us with each other and to build on our humanity. 

We believe in giving back, what we can in whatever way we can. We have been lucky enough to have had the experiences we had as professionals in education, media and in social justice work. We want to bring these experiences to our communities and to the students who seeking these opportunities to be seen, heard, and understood for the beautiful young people they are. 

This publication was created in the hopes of giving youth a positive platform to identify issues and collectively create solutions to encourage mental, emotional, physical health and safety. They should be able to decide what their place is in all of this. They should be able to contribute to the narrative, in whatever way they choose to. We strive to work in collaboration with artists, teachers, families, school districts, local community leaders and national experts to provide feedback and opportunities for all students. 

For this first issue, we selected strong entries that spoke to love, the future, and visibility. We had the honor of working with each of these students. These are their stories, in their words, unfiltered....