YCA Blog

Chicago Beat Oral Histories

Chicago Beat Oral Histories

Intro by Breanna Bonslater

During the first segment of Chicago Beat, we focused on telling our oral history through verse and prose. By reflecting on our own lives and telling our own stories through a verse medium, the teens were able to learn what it means to tell a story. This project was only a stepping stone to the larger project of telling other people's history: For one to be able to tell another's story, they must be able to tell there own first.

The students touched on many topics as they reflected on their lives: Depression, loss, racism, stereotyping, sense of home, and honor in one's culture. Because Chicago Beat reflects a variety of teens from different parts of the city who lead very different lives, every student was able to learn from each other, to learn about pain they've never felt and issues they've never experienced firsthand. Each student reflected on an important part of their life, baring some of their insecurities and secrets to each other, for the sake of teaching and learning.

Below are oral pieces by the Chicago Beat's seven interns:

1. Sema'J Fisher, "Transitioning"
2. Trey Raines, "Chatham Blues"
3. Elena Wilson, "Shelter"
4. Breanna Bonslater, "Bleed Red"
5. Payton Gray, "Untitled"
6. Jacqueline Nunez, "Untitled 2"
7. Nylijah Barnes, "Glory and Gore," "Round 2," and "Execution"