Aya: Anthology of Racial Justice, Healing, and the Black Experience



By Dr ARtika Tyner, [email protected]

* Editor’s Note: Last month, the title of Dr. Tyner’s column was incorrectly associated with the October text. Our apologies for the mistake.
Your voice can make a difference. This is the message of hope that Planting People Growing Justice â„¢ Leadership Institute (PPGJLI) shares with our young leaders. Our young people have faced tumultuous times with the onset of the COVID-19 double pandemic and racial injustice. Through our writing and art workshops, we provide a safe place for young people to share their trauma and pain while finding peace and healing.
Our goal at PPGJLI is to inspire our youth to lead change by raising their voices for justice. Writing is a vehicle to achieve this goal. To fuel this passion in our young people to write for justice, we are launching a new writing competition for young people called “Aya: An Anthology of Racial Justice, Healing and the Black Experience”.
The word Aya is a West African Adinkra symbol represented by a stylized fern. In the Akan Twi language, it means fern and is representative of endurance, resourcefulness, and defiance against oppression. The concept is very similar to the hardy fern plant that perseveres, grows and thrives in the most unlikely places.
The PPGJLI competition is open to residents of St. Paul of African American descent between the ages of 13 and 18. The Aya-themed competition seeks poems, prose, fiction and creative non-fiction of up to 1,000 words. Submissions must be original pieces that relate to the themes of “Racial Justice and the Black Experience” or “Racial Healing and the Black Experience”.
The Anthology of Young Writers is a companion project to the Sankofa Teach-In series and the PPGJLI art exhibition. PPGJLI uses art in a variety of ways to promote change in society and inspire young artists to be the leaders of tomorrow who will harness the transformative power of Afro-Futurism by re-imagining and creating our future.
This youth writing competition is made possible by a grant from the Saint Paul STAR program. Young authors will be selected by a panel of community judges. The winning papers will be published in the anthology, receive an honorarium of $ 50 and a copy of the published book. Entries must be received by midnight December 31, 2021. Upon publication, selected authors will participate in public readings and other community building activities. Applications can be submitted online (https://www.ppgjli.org/youth-anthology).
“Aya: An Anthology of Racial Justice, Healing and the Black Experience” is a unique opportunity for young aspiring writers, authors and poets to share their experiences, perspective and potential solutions. For many, it is a way of serving as social architects who are committed to building a more just and inclusive society.
Through her organization, Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, Dr. Artika Tyner seeks to sow the seeds of social change through education, training and community outreach.



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