This article was a collaborative effort between Cassie Conklin and Delanie Blubaugh.
Angel Young, a Frostburg State University sophomore studying political science and psychology, was recently invited to speak at the She Matters Safe Not Silent March organized by the Allegany County NAACP Chapter. This young activist, poet, and podcast host has splashed onto the public scene and quickly become a clear voice in the pursuit of equity and justice within her community. Among her most celebrated work is a powerful poem entitled, “I Envy.”
“I believe that in this struggle for change, two of the most important things to do is to be aware of our history and to reestablish a mindset that was forgotten so long ago within individuals of the black community,” said Young. She says the image of Black Americans has been diminished historically and feels a personal call to action to reverse that damage. Prior to slavery, Young said, “we were prosperous and most of all we were proud of who we were as a community. That mindset has been worn down, torn, and in some cases broken, throughout the course of history. We’ve been labeled as rapists, criminals, thugs, and animals by the systems of America and now enough is enough. In order for communal change to move forward, we must first start by acknowledging the inner wounds that lie within our mindsets from 200+ years of oppression so that we can go about healing ourselves and others who stand with us.”
The She Matters March was held in commemoration of Black women who have been the victims of police brutality, and in particular to celebrate the memory of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed by police in her own home. Young was not surprised by the decision of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to not pursue murder charges against the officers in Taylor’s case. “While I am deeply disheartened by it, I am not surprised,” said Young. “As stated in my speech, the justice system was not set up for us, it was set against us. It was created to keep me, and every other African American in America in a continuous state of oppression. And so, for us to go to this system and ask them for justice for an innocent black woman who was shot and killed while sleeping in her house, is hopeless.”
Like others in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, Young sees this problem as an opportunity, though. Alongside other minority groups and white allies, Young hopes that people will enact change wherever they are able to. “Whether that be educating themselves or others on the origins of systemic oppression in America, or going out to vote this coming election, change in a legislative manner is needed.”
Though Young is only a college sophomore, her interest in politics and human rights is well-established thanks to her parents who raised her in Owings Mills, Maryland, “but I became truly aware of the racial crisis that continues to persist in America when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. I was a freshman in high school at the time, and since then my awareness and perspectives on the BLM movement have evolved.” Following the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, Young says she found her voice and vowed to use it. “Through the use of my poetry and my podcast, I have utilized my voice to not only convey my emotions on the racial injustices that continue to persist but educate others on the reasons why they continue to persist,” she said.
And Young is just getting started. She has future ambitions that include personally enacting and directing change within the Black community. “In my speech I talked about circulating wealth, health, and prosperity throughout the black communities. That starts with us,” said Young. Indeed, Young sees the first step toward equality as an inter-community effort. “We cannot expect the government to give us anything more than the bare minimum. Politics runs on money, we see this in the way interests groups and businesses have a hand in making laws, enacting policies, and funding legislative/executive nominees. If we are going to get ourselves into positions of power in which we can establish true change, it starts with the building up of our communities. That means circulating wealth throughout the Black community, for the build-up of Black owned businesses, schools, facilities, etc. That means encouraging our other successful black men and women to educate and inform our youth on how they too can become successful in present-day America.”
Though a realist, Young is ever optimistic and progressive thinking. Despite a flawed present, the future looks bright through her eyes. “I believe in the power of a unified people, and if the BLM movement has shown me anything it’s that under a common cause we are a unified people and we can get the job done. This is my goal. This is my vision of my community, and I know it can and will be done,” she resolves.
Angel Young’s podcast, A Seat at the Table, is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Anchor FM, Google Podcasts, and wherever you like to stream.