To Be a M.A.D Black Girl Who Rocks: Chanice. A Lee
This young revolutionary hailing from Fort Lauderdale, FL has achieved great feats and continues to prosper as she prides herself in building platforms and utilizing her voice in the name of attaining freedom and liberation for her people. Teen author of "Young Revolutionary: A Teen's Guide to Activism", a self help narrative depicting the steps one would take to build and/or bring awareness to their own movements and revolutions, she exemplifies the meaning of what it looks like to build her own and sustain her growth as she further progresses our community by offering a wealth of information to the next generation.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Lee and speak on who she is behind the accolades and what draws her to this work. As a Black Girls Rock "M.A.D Black Girl" award recipient, a young woman who finds herself rubbing shoulders with the likes of Beverly Bond, and teen author who is now expanding her reach by producing her own documentary featuring an array of teen activists across the country, we get to dive deeper into the riveting life of resilient teen activist and close friend of mine, Chanice A. Lee.
Q: What sparked your interest in activism and advocating?
A: I get asked this question a lot and I realized that I never experienced an "aha" moment that sparked my interest in activism and organizing, rather it was several of them. However, I vividly remember it being the summer before my 8th-grade year that I'd experienced an awakening. Seeing the uproar on social media happen over the death of Sandra Bland was the start of my catapult into the world of social justice and activism. Her death and the unjust deaths of unarmed Black people led me to become passionate about racial justice/equity, womanism, liberation for marginalized communities, anti-racism, and anti-oppression work. Having exposure to the internet at such a young age definitely has its drawbacks, but had I not seen with my own eyes the horrors that were occurring to Black people, especially young Black women, I likely would not be doing the work I do today.
Q: Who inspires you to amplify your voice and the voices of others?
A: I am inspired by Angela Davis, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida. B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, and countless other Black women who paved the way for me to be where I am today. I am empowered by James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, and all other ancestors whose legacies and profound writings serve as my daily reminder that I don't have a reason to give up.
Q: What are the barriers and obstacles you've had to overcome in your journey of activism?
A: Aside from being a young person learning how to navigate adult-dominated spaces, one thing that I've had to overcome (and that I'm still learning to be quite honest) is how to overcome and avoid burnout. I don't do this work for fun. I do it for my life, and for so many other lives. When you get into the world of activism and specifically community organizing, it's extremely easy to get caught up in being in "save the world" mode 24/7 and at one point I got to a place where that took a serious toll on my mental and emotional well-being. My mom once told me self-care is the most revolutionary act I could ever perform and that's been something that I've been honoring a lot lately. The ability to care for myself is what allows me to care for others.
With Chanice focusing her work on informing the youth and her fellow peers, I asked if there was a quote, sentiment, or piece of advice she would want to share with the masses and instill in the youth. She reminisced on a recent experience and relinquished a word of the wise with us; responding with, "I attended a conference for a program I recently became apart of and listened to Mariame Kaba, a phenomenal Black woman organizer who centers her work around prison and police abolition, give the most profound speech I'd ever had the privilege of hearing. One thing she said that stayed with me was: "You future has already been paid for by so many people you'll never get to meet" and that is the message I would like for youth today to know."
Profound. Powerful. Prominent.
It is these words that acknowledge the presence of the history we derive from. Our ancestors fought, labored, and sacrificed to afford us opportunities they were never presented, and it is for that reason we must honor their work by continuing it. Lee is doing just that and now the world is taking notice...
In addition to being an incredible teen author, activist, and worldchanger, Chanice was also honored and awarded the title of being a "M.A.D Black Girl" at the 2019 Black Girls Rock awards show. When asked of the experience, Chanice went on to answer what this achievement meant to her...
A: "Black Girls Rock is an annual award show that airs on BET to celebrate the achievements and livelihoods of Black women and girls. One of the awards that they give is the M.A.D (Making A Difference) Girl award which identifies 3 young women who are doing great things to make a positive impact on the world. When I found out that I had been nominated for the award, I was in pure shock. Then when I found out that I was one of the girls officially selected after the nomination process had been completed, I was in even more shock. I still struggle to put into words how grateful I am to have been given such a profound experience and opportunity. From walking on a red carpet for the first time, receiving a hug from Angela Bassett, and just being in the presence of so many phenomenal Black women and girls, uplifted me in a way that I didn't even know was possible. Even weeks after the show airing, it still feels surreal every time I reflect on the experience.
Lastly, as an avid lover of reading and all things word, it was inevitable that I would have to dig into Chanice's accomplishment of writing and publishing her first book, "Young Revolutionary: A Teen's Guide to Activism". So many young individuals are constantly looking for the *blueprint* or instruction manual in regards of how they can get involved and advance a movement, spread awareness, etc. Lee has not only written it, but is now selling it to the masses. We dig a little deeper into her intentions behind creating it and how you too can get involved in supporting her efforts.
Q: What are the contributions you've made to society that you are most proud of?
A: So far, I am most proud of writing and publishing my first book, Young Revolutionary: A Teen's Guide To Activism. As I grow older, I know this answer will change, but currently knowing something I've written is impacting youth all over the world and encouraging them to go out and create positive change, is what I'm most proud of. Having a global impact means more to me than I can put into words.
Q: Upon releasing "Young Revolutionary: A Teen's Guide to Activism", what were your hopes in writing and publishing this piece?
A: When I wrote and published Young Revolutionary, I wrote it with the intent of educating, inspiring, and empowering young people all over the world, and it is doing just that, plus so much more that I would have never imagined.
Q: How can we get involved and aid you in your advocacy efforts to further advance our community and take action?
A: Aside from purchasing a copy of Young Revolutionary here and gifting it to a young person in your life, another way others can support me is donating to my fundraiser as I am currently working on turning Young Revolutionary into a documentary to highlight the efforts of young organizers all over the country. Over the next few months, I will be releasing more and more details.
Join the movement. Join the revolution. Aid and support this amazingly gifted young woman in connecting, loving, uplifting, and building with youth around the globe. She can be found on the following social platforms:
Facebook: Chanice A. Lee
Website: Chanice A. Lee