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Fourteen young Black Minneapolis writers are now paid published authors

"Rehumanize Me" is an anthology of poems and essays with themes including: a path toward healing, liberation, and Black joy.

MINNEAPOLIS — Published just before Juneteenth 2022, "Rehumanize Me" illustrates the experiences of 14 young Black people in Minneapolis at a time of uprising and social change.

Hani Mohammed, who is blind, contributed a haiku to the anthology, which includes a total of 30 poems and essays.

"This poem is called 'Spring Growth,'" she said in a segment with KARE 11. "It goes like this. 'New possibilities. Colorful birds migrating back. The scent of hope in the air.'"

It's one example from a book full of stories. Elsie Carmona-Quiteiro wrote a piece called "A Letter to You."

"'We the youth will claim our rights to live off the promise of a better future,'" she said, reading an excerpt. "'Free me from my trauma. Let me sit in my serenity of peace.' Thank you."

Knowing writing can help heal. Arts education nonprofit 826 MSP guided them through the process, meeting them in the writer's Room at South High School.

"This is the first time where we had an editorial board … where students had more autonomy than in previous projects and were more so like collaborators on the same level as the adults," Writer's Room manager Jeannine Erickson said. "This is important because kids need to know that they can be the stories that they've been wanting." 

826 MSP worked with Wise Ink Creative Publishing to create the book. It's the first published work of Project Exodus, Wise Ink's "cultural reparations program" for Black storytellers and other creatives.

The authors were in high school when they wrote "Rehumanize Me." Frederick Emdin attended South and is now an Augsburg University student heading into his sophomore year. He says the book reignited his passion for writing music.

"Through my art, I just take whatever I write as poetry and try to throw it on a beat and then mix it and make it sound good," he said.

"Rehumanize Me" costs $15 and is available for purchase online. Erickson says each of the authors received a stipend and will continue to get paid as the book is sold.

The authors plan to celebrate their book launch at Pimento Jamaican Kitchen Thursday, June 23 from 5-7 p.m. The event will feature readings from the authors and DJ Michel.Be will provide music. The community is invited to attend. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

"We just wanted a chance to rehumanize what it meant to be Black and remember that there is Black joy," Carmona-Quiteiro said.

"It means a lot to me," Mohammed added. "I got to learn amazing people, collab with amazing young youth."

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