16-Year-Old Author Olivia V.G. Clarke Publishes Anthology About Black Girls Who Break Barriers
Oct. 12, 2020
Olivia V.G. Clarke means business . The sixteen-year-old student, activist, and published author has recently released her anthology Black Girl White School: Thriving, Surviving, and No, You Can’t Touch My Hair , which includes 123 pages of poems, essays, and stories from Black girls and women aged 12 to 22.
They write about what it’s like to be a Black girl navigating spaces in which they are often the only Black girls doing so.
This is something Olivia can speak about from personal experience. As a student at Columbus School for Girls, she spent most of her youth engaging in political and racial politics . It’s often not an easy road to take, but Olivia has channeled her experiences into something that can help others.
The idea for her book struck her one day, so she ran it by her mom.
While she could have written a book just based on her own experiences, Olivia recognized the value and power in including a lot of voices in the project. She took to social media to find writers who might want to contribute their own stories.
“I wanted to do an anthology because so many Black girls who attend predominantly white institutions have important stories to tell. I haven’t experienced them all myself, so everyone has something different to bring to the conversation.”
She continues, “I wanted to raise and amplify the voices of Black women and girls that might be different from my own as well. Just so that no matter where you are, what part of your journey you’re in, you can relate to something in the book.”
The entire project took Olivia a year-and-a-half of hard work and focus. She was able to produce an anthology that is inclusive, and that celebrates and recognizes many forms of writing.
Olivia also created a journal to go along with her book. Happily, her book hit number one on Amazon in several categories.
The book isn’t the only way Olivia is contributing to the world. She’s a leader at her school, and serves on the institution’s Diversity Executive Board. She’s planned conferences, organized student-run faculty development activities and programs, and is President of her school’s Dance Club. In other words: she’s busy!
Those accomplishments don’t even round out Olivia’s entire resume . But she also explains on her site that she’s still a regular teen. “I like to hang out with my friends, dance, binge watch K-Dramas, eat potatoes, listen to all kinds of music. And ducks. I love ducks.”
Olivia also explains why she wanted to write the book on her blog.
“The purpose of this book, Black Girl, White School , is to offer support and guidance for Black girls in predominantly white institutions as well as offer insight to the teachers and administrations of a predominately white institution so that they may gain a better understanding of our experiences and enhance their role as allies in diversity and inclusion in schools.”
Olivia told her local news station that she started the project right before the health crisis picked up steam.
“I started this right before [the virus] hit. So, everything was really chaotic at the time. I wanted to help [other girls] in the way I wasn’t necessarily helped. One of the things difficult is when you’re a minority at a PWI [predominantly white institution] is there isn’t many of you, so you do feel alone.”
She also pointed out that it’s possible more people are ready for her message.
“It’s an important conversation to have and people may be more receptive to it right now. Also think what are the repercussions of systemic racism and discrimination in schools and how that affects Black and brown students.”
She adds that the goal is two-fold: Olivia hopes her book will uplift others and that it will also start conversations.
“I want to raise up Black voices especially Black female voices that aren’t necessarily heard, because we’re young. I want this to be a book that ignites conversations more than anything.”
In addition to coming up with a journal for Black girls and women to write their own experiences, Olivia also put together a second journal for allies.
Olivia’s book is definitely garnering raves on Amazon, and there’s no doubt that her future efforts will be just as successful, or even more so.
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