When Brian mentioned the PublicSource project to me I was excited simply because I wanted to continue to give back to my community. The creation of YNGBLKPGH is so much more than just being recognized in a book. For me, it has always been about connecting with and mentoring the youth. Brian briefly mentioned that I would be responding to a young girl from Clairton. He said that the subject of her letter was Living in Clairton: ‘Nobody really cares unless it is football’. He remembered that I mentioned in the “About Me” portion of my YNGBLKPGH book entry, about being from Clairton. A little forgotten steel town that is known as the high school football capital on the word. This being true in terms of consecutive wins and the town’s affinity with the players and coaches. I was geeked to be responding to a young Clairton girl because I too was once in her shoes! I had recently completed some mock interviews for graduating Clairton High School 2017 Seniors, none of who I had never met or heard of.  I didn’t know and of their older family members, fake cousins (you know how everyone is “cousins” in the hood), or last names. So boy, was I super surprised once I opened the link and realized just who I would be responding to! Tamia Joy! Her mother my “big Sis” for a long as I can remember. I remember when Tamia was born! Little Tamia! Well not so little anymore! Miss Tamia wrote such an intelligent, opinionated, and though out piece, that I was wowed over the content and how she truly felt. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and members of the Clairton School District picked up Tamia’s Story and had some responses of their own. I called Brian and said, “I got Tamia, she’s like my niece!” No co-winky-dinks here, only God.  I read the letter, responded, and practically typed a whole book! I was so amped to respond the lovely ladies of PublicSource were like,” Girl please, this is too long”!🙃Ha! I just had so much to say. After reading Tamia’s entry several times, I even felt a little sad. Like Dang… being smart and accomplished “still” isn’t cool? Only being able to jump, shoot, leap, or dunk is accepted in our town! No, this can’t be, but moreover this can’t be how you feel and it can’t get you down!  Many greats have come out of “the C” and I wanted her to know she is going to be one of them! Believe that! I was able to edit my response down to a respectable length. I let her know that the focusing on her and not the talk of the town is the way to go. I am sooo proud of the young lady she has become. Today my response to Tamia’s letter was published on PublicSource.com!  You can read Tamia’s Story and my response letter to Tamia here !! Also check out her video below! Would love to hear what you guys think! Lastly, we welcome you to stop by Repair The World: Pittsburgh on September 23rd from 5-7 for the YNGBLKPGH X PublicSource Mentorship Event! You can get your tickets here! This is a free event so bring your mentors, mentees, and  your family and friends!

-VKV-