In Having To Tell Your Mother Is the Hardest Part, a collection of personal narratives by DC public and charter school students, writers challenge assumptions of identity and what it means to live in DC today.
70 students share their experiences of life this school year in a project run by literary and arts education nonprofit 826DC. The students all identify as either black or Hispanic, and the conversations happening on the national stage have particularly affected their lives.
Tenth grade student Lakayla Callaway expresses concern over political and demographic shifts. “There is so much division in this city that it’s unbelievable,” she writes. Fifth-grader Maddie Morgan reacts to President Trump’s changes in immigration policy. “I was freaking out because I didn’t know how my brother would come now. I knew he could get hurt, and I felt pain.” And another student has a plea for America: “Please stop the racism and all the hate.”
The young authors are 5th graders from Bruce Monroe @ Park View and high schoolers at The SEED School of Washington, DC. Both schools are Title I, meaning the majority of enrolled students live in poverty. The DC earthquake makes an appearance, but more frequently does undocumented immigration, racial profiling, and what it means to live in America today. Published through 826DC’s Young Authors’ Book Project program, the publication will be available in mid-May.
“This year’s Young Authors’ Book Project in particular sought to connect the specific and rich lived experiences of DC students to broader conversations about identity, representation, and agency. With the 2016 presidential election as a backdrop, the nuances of these personal memoirs take on even greater heft,” said Zachary Clark, Executive Director, 826DC. “Having To Tell Your Mother Is the Hardest Part is a testament to these students’ bravery as they broadly shared their stories with one another and with us, and we are honored to learn from them.”
Student writers used Junot Diaz and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen as inspiration and spent nearly four months writing. The book’s publication coincides with broader conversations on a national level about identity and the usefulness of writing and the arts, as budget debates on Capitol Hill and conversations about the role of judiciary in policy continue to make daily news.
826DC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.