I want you to absorb one thing and one thing only today: Black girls are EVERYTHING. They are smart. They are funny. They are open. They are magic.
I am on a natural high from the most magical dazzicle day since I moved to LA. For those of you who are new to my blog, let me give you some background. After my quarter life crisis, I quit my job and moved to LA to start pursuing a career in tech. I'm learning to code iOS mobile apps with Swift at General Assembly. You can learn a little bit about my experience in my last blog post here.
When I decided to get into programming, I knew I needed to get involved with Black Girls Code. I wouldn't be where I am today without the encouragement and guidance of my mentors, almost all of whom are black women, so I've been searching for an opportunity to pay it forward. BGC recently added an LA Chapter, and hosted one of their Build A Mobile App in A Day workshops with MakerCity LA, a coworking space Downtown. This past Saturday, I was honored to experience young black girls, ages 7-13 yrs, build mobile apps. Small things matter so I must say, the space was absolutely phenomenal. I mean we felt like we were in the middle of a tech hub with companies like General Assembly, Postmates, and CultureHub holding offices on the floor. The overall experience was incredible, but I'll break down my review into sections below:
The Preparation: Communication was pretty much impeccable leading up to the event. When I signed up, I received an email detailing my role, my responsibilities, and expectations for the day of. There were two required trainings the week prior to the event, one for technical volunteers and the other for technical volunteers. We had the opportunity to meet other volunteers, get familiar with the space, and set up for our girls.
The Girls: I was BLOWN away. 7 yr olds were learning to program. Seven. Years. Old. Even more incredible was that there were experts in the crowd. Under 13...experts. One of the girls I met was 8 years old, and "tinkering" with robotics and gaming. Another girl was 13, wise beyond her years, had already mastered Web Design and was ready for her next challenge. These girls are defying stereotypes and are already closing the skills and opportunity gap in the tech industry.
The Experience: I love seeing the range of personalities and the brilliance of black youth. When the girls entered the space, every single one of them was throbbing with excitement and nervousness about what the day would hold. Parents were buzzing with excitement about the opportunity for their girls. I asked a few parents what they were most excited for and realized that for them, programs like Black Girls Code offer their girls an alternative to a system that doesn't always cultivate young black potential. One parent remarked "My daughter doesn't really like school. She's smart but I'm hoping that having her here will help her find a passion and be around other likeminded girls." Similarly, one of the girls told me that her school doesn't challenge her or foster her creativity and she came to BGC to gain "marketable skills." By the way, she literally said marketable skills and I said YAS QUEEN. Get that.
After this weekend, I came to one conclusion: I never want to hear another person tell me that young black kids are falling behind their peers because of anything OTHER than lack of opportunity. These girls haven proven, repeatedly, that if we give our community the tools for success, they will not only rise to the occassion, they will surpass our expectations. Black Girls Code allows our youth to use their imagination and cultivate a passion for technology. And it also shows our girls that there is more to their future than what they may or may not learn inside of the four walls of a school. If we continue to fuel our community with resources, mentors, and opportunities, we can rewrite the story of success for our youth. I will forever partner with programs like Black Girls Code because it is giving girls who look like me the chance to show the world what black youth can do with their potential. I'm convinced you can't go to a BGC event without walking away astonished by the talent and heart of these little girls. And even more so, I'm convinced that programs like BGC will silence the dialogue claiming that companies can't find people of color with the skills necessary to be successful in the tech.
Before I close, I want to take this moment to acknowledge Kimberly Bryant, BGC employees, BGC volunteers, and BGC partners and investors. Thank you for helping us change the narrative of expectation for black success. Black girls have always been brilliant. We've been writers, painters, musicians, businesswomen, scientists, mathematicians. We've always been creators. Naturally its time for the world to see our creations through code. Because black girls code too.
Wanna experience what I'm talking about? Head over to www.blackgirlscode.com and sign up to volunteer. The Next LA event is November 5th.