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Interview: A Teen Author in Her Own Words

The Homegirl Project interviewed Chanice Lee, a teen activist, about reclaiming her time and publishing Young Revolutionary.

by Ava Marshall

Who is Chanice Lee? How would you describe yourself in both professional and personal terms?

I am an innovative and passionate 16-year-old activist, author, speaker, and blogger. I’m the author of Young Revolutionary: A Teen’s Guide To Activism which was published in March of 2018. I’m also the creator & Editor-in-Chief of The Melanin Diary, which is the #1 online global platform for social justice, history, politics, and more, written entirely from the Black teen’s perspective. I’m on a mission to change the world!

What kickstarted your interest in activism?

There was never one specific moment that led me to becoming an activist. I remember that I didn’t even know I was an “activist” until I saw someone call me that. I was like, “So that’s what this is called!” Being politically involved wasn’t “activism" to me, it was just me doing what I felt was right and what I was passionate about.

You were a Teen Advisor for Girl Up in 2017-2018. What drew you to Girl Up?

In January 2017, I hopped in the car and took the hour drive to Suncoast High School in West Palm Beach, where I attended my first Girl Up event : the South Florida Advocacy Boot Up. There, I learned about Girl Up, issues that affected girls around the world, and how I could be an effective advocate.

What is true feminism to you?

True feminism, to me, is making sure that all women are empowered and safe, economically, mentally, spiritually, and physically. To be honest, I’m in a state where I don’t know if I really want to claim the title of feminist. Personally, I’m learning that I lean more to the Black Feminist and/or Womanist ideologies. Here’s a quote by Audre Lorde that accurately describes how I feel: “I am a Black feminist. I mean I recognize that my power as well as my primary oppressions come as a result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable.” I don’t feel that “feminist" alone is enough to describe me because my race and gender are both huge factors that contribute to my experiences in this world and also how I view the world.

What inspired you to write Young Revolutionary: A Teen's Guide to Activism? Why is it important that teenagers are reminded that they have a seat at the table in the activist realm?

I always like to say that instead of demanding a seat at any table, I just decided to build my own, which is the message I want to give other teenagers. If I spent my time demanding for popular media companies to display a positive and accurate representation of Black youth, then The Melanin Diary would have never been created. If I waited for someone else to publish an activism guide for teens, Young Revolutionary would have never been written. I’ve learned not to spend my time demanding others to do things. If you want to create change, don’t spend your time demanding things of others when you can just do it yourself!

What is next for you?

Right now I’m going into my last year of high school, so most of my time has been focused on preparing for college. I would like to attend Howard University, but I will be taking a gap year for the 2019-2020 school year to do a book tour for Young Revolutionary and to focus on my other endeavors. I will be heading to college in the Fall of 2020. Outside of academics, I’m currently thinking about what my second book will be about. I can’t give too many details because I don’t even know them myself. However, I will definitely be turning Young Revolutionary into a series (which I do know for sure!)

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