Paper Storms began as the need to get out the thoughts I had about no one really knowing the backstory of Storm, the Marvel superhero who's only real claim to fame is Halle Berry bearing her likeness. She's black with white hair, glowing eyes and holds the ability to manipulate the weather. That's about it. We can fanboy it and say there have been revelations on her real name and origin, but still, there is not much to go on other than her box-office bankability. That need to know more about her expanded to the need to know more about myself and what would happen if I knew my own backstory - not the one that is written for me. Those thoughts became paragraphs which morphed into a lesson plan and curriculum to a class I had no idea how to teach. A lesson plan geared towards adults until I was told by three separate persons that I need to teach this to -wait for it - teenage girls. I have to admit: I did not know what I was getting myself into. Me. In a room with a handful of teenage girls. Attempting to talk to them unlike the mother that I am. And have them listen.
Even on paper, for me, made no sense.
Then, on June 20th, 2015, I conducted the first Paper Storms class, hearing some of these girls speak uninhibited for the first time. Now, my mindset has shifted. There is nothing else I'd rather be doing on a Saturday morning during summer break.
I have yet to hear more honesty, vulnerability, bravery and courage as when these girls speak. They relay the actual struggles and frustrations of growing up a black girl in this day and age with so much wisdom, the type of wisdom we petty adults tell them they can't possibly be privy to. Yet, they haven't ceased to amaze me. My cousin and partner in all things #PaperStorms Dei Stevenson and I leave each class with a renewed sense of identity, wishing we had this type of forum when we were in our angst years. The thought that one of them will begin to look at life - herself, her voice, her walk - differently is enough to make us get out of bed and shuffle the pens and notebooks together on a Saturday morning to divvy out across a library table.
If they all were to jump and fly in class, scraping the ceiling with their Jordans and sandals, it wouldn't be enough to call them superheroes. Continuing to be brave enough to speak her own truth to power is the real sign in the sky.