By: Ruby Veridiano
Like many teenage girls, my girls in Harlem are always eager to talk about love. And why shouldn’t they? Love is both exciting and exhilarating, a new frontier to explore. After all, aren’t we all going to remain forever young on the inside, like giddy girls with budding hearts eager to welcome that magnificent thing called Love in? Especially around these girls, I know I most certainly do.
A few weeks ago, the girls and I spent time talking about love. More than just a feeling, we also recognized that in a world of injustice and inequality, love is also it’s own politic. To spark discussion, I brought in a song from one of my favorite artists, Janelle Monae. We listened to her song “Metropolis”, a song about a cyborg robot who faces the threat of being violently disassembled because she fell in love with a human.
Her lyrics read, “How can a wired thing understand/Love is too deep; too wide to feel/when your soul is a button/and your foot glows in heels”
Above: Tiffany Collins writes an ending to Janelle Monae’s song
After listening to her song, I asked the girls if this concept of “forbidden love” told through the metaphor of a robot is something they could recognize in the real world. Immediately, we launched into a deep and profound discussion about love and the many politics that surround it. The girls brought up the forbidden love that sometimes taints relationships: from race to class, sexuality to religion, age and arranged marriages, the girls engaged in a deep, multilayered discussion about our country’s heaviest issues.
I thought to myself, if only the world could see what I see.
When I come to this room every Tuesday, I watch these young women’s growth unfold, and I grow so incredibly hopeful of the future. These are young women who, in the beginning of the summer, were resistant about discussing world issues, but who now have strong opinions and a global perspective that is apparent in their dialogue. They speak and think like leaders, able to point out how to be a responsible, compassionate, respectful citizen of the world. Listen to them speak, and you will see their spirit emerging proud.
The beautiful part is that their new awareness is beginning to become innate, their leadership and critical thinking instincts becoming second nature. They are able to expand their visions outside of Harlem, outside of New York City, and able to relate and empathize with the struggles that their sisters go through in other parts of the world.
If only the world could see what I see.
Every Tuesday, I see young women in rising, women learning how to wield and own their power, women learning to love each other, women learning to love themselves more and more every day. And I think to myself, I love this work, and how much more it teaches me about the expansiveness of love and how far it reaches. It reaches me in its greatest magnitude here at Polo Grounds, where I watch love take shape in the form of seven beautiful young girls who proudly wear their hearts on their sleeves.
And just like them, every Tuesday, I am reminded of the wonders of love’s frontiers, and I am transformed into the giddy teenager yet again- diving in to the excitement of loving the work I do and being part of these young women’s lives.
I am so thankful.