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'Hear our Truths' uncovers the power of arts for African-American girls and community

by Christy Kim / Nov 15, 2013

In her latest book, Ruth Nicole Brown, assistant professor in Educational Policy Studies and Gender and Women's Studies, documents her experiences with the organization Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT) and its efforts to provide black girls and women a space for creative performance and expression.

“The book talks about what’s possible when black women and girls come togetheHear Our Truths book coverr to create new images about themselves and to intervene in stories that are written about them, such as social stereotypes,” Brown said.

In “Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood,” slated to come out this winter, Brown argues that black girls and women produce honest, complex, and humanizing representations of their lives that must be heard. Additionally, creative activities and projects help to reveal the transformations needed to support the lives of black youth.

Founded in 2006 and co-organized by Brown, SOLHOT offers a space for women and girls to freely express themselves and to change the world around them. SOLHOT’s mission, the work of its participants, and the current political context in which black youth must survive inspired Brown to write her book.

Brown uses the new book to fill a need for academic literature concerning black girlhood, feminism, pedagogy, and the creative arts. She wants readers to “see black girls differently, not as a problem, but as creators of knowledge who have many of the answers to current problems that we’re facing.” She also stresses that in a time when education focuses on so many different disciplines, the arts should not be forgotten, as it is “particularly transformative as a way of knowing and it’s something that should be taught and valued as a part of a liberal arts education.”

Brown is also the author of “Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward a Hip-Hop Feminist Pedagogy” and co-editor of “Wish to Live: The Hip-Hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader.”