Community Partnership Spotlight: Young Kings & Queens Inc.

Our organization wouldn’t be what it is without the help of volunteers and the collaboration with differing organizations within Kalamazoo County. Young Kings and Queens Inc. (YKQ Inc.) is a non-profit organization that is collaborating with us this summer through a book club. YKQ Inc.’s mission is to empower and inspire minority youth to live beyond the scopes of societal norms through exposure to broader experiences and information. Using the tenets of culture, community and identity, YKQ, Inc. raises overall awareness of its youth through education and experiences. They specifically work with youth between the ages of nine and thirteen and have decided to team up with RAWK this summer.

Jason Conde, our Director of Education, is leading youth from YKQ Inc. in a summer book club as they read the award-winning young adult novel by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give. Thomas’ novel is centered around Starr, a young African American girl who witnesses the death of her childhood best friend by the hands of a police officer. The Hate U Give opens the narrative for activism and the strength of youth voices in times of trauma and hardship with a focus on one’s identity. Youth from YKQ Inc. came to the RAWK center at the end of June and received free copies of the novel. We discussed what we thought the book would be about and set our own daily reading and writing goals. The overall goal is to get them writing in their notebooks every day that we have provided for them and to have them finish the novel before our second meeting.

The book club members will return again on August 2nd to discuss their reactions to the book and how they see their stories represented within the novel and how the novel may impact their own stories. Then the youth will come back for a third and final visit the following week to share their creative written responses about the book and other pieces of writing to create an anthology they will be able to keep.

Overall we have been excited to work with YKQ Inc. because their mission aligns strongly with RAWK’s and it opens doors for both organizations, allowing voices and stories to come together that might not have interacted if this collaboration did not exist. We have also been excited to spread the influential and valuable work of Angie Thomas by assigning The Hate U Give as it encourages youth to stand up and use their words even when it's tough, even if their voice might shake.