Voices of Youth: Celebrating intersectional identities

This article is part of Concentrate's Voices of Youth series, which features content created by Washtenaw County youth in partnership with Concentrate staff mentors, as well as feature stories by adult writers that examine issues of importance to local youth. In this installment, student writers Thylicia Babumba and Ella Yip interview several of their peers about their intersectional identities. These interviews originally appeared as part of a takeover of Concentrate's Instagram.

Hello, we are Ella and Thylicia, two high school students working with Concentrate Media’s Voices of Youth project. We believe this project is important because we need to shine a spotlight on the unique and complex identities in the youth of today. We strive to celebrate the beautiful ways that identity comes together in our peers.

We want to remind readers all identities shared are unique to the person, and the shared story does not speak for everyone who has that identity.

Please be respectful and courteous when reading these stories. Take your time to read and enjoy!

"So for a long time, over the past few years, I've been not feeling Indian enough, or Asian enough, or stuff like that. A lot of the Indian people in Ann Arbor were born in India, and then moved here, and they know the language. They grew up in the culture, but my parents are not super traditional. So I just never felt like I could fit in with them. But then, the white people here, it's a little bit too white. So I kind of have to find a balance, and be able to figure out myself, and be okay with who I am before I could do other stuff. And then it's just a constant struggle with me, because I don't know what happens if I get married to a girl. Am I just not gonna have my
grandparents there? I think the best way I could possibly celebrate my identity is by not trying to suppress it. So I just live my life."

- Isha, a bisexual Indian woman.

"I think the struggle is obviously with the oppressive people and society around you, but, more importantly, with yourself. I’ve struggled a lot with just accepting that I won’t get to be what cisgender people are, or that I’ll never assimilate into American society the way a white person could. It’s also scary to think about the rest of your life when you’re in not just one, but several marginalized groups. What will society allow me to do as a non-binary, Vietnamese person? It’s hard to come to terms with these internal conflicts, and be able to sit back and go, 'this is me, and it’s not my fault that this is who I am.' I think you just get to a point where you, as a person, realize there isn’t really anything you can do anymore."

- Salem, a Vietnamese-American, lesbian, trans, non-binary person.

"There are certain aspects of my identity that I like, mostly related to my race (culture, language, food, etc.), but the majority of my identity is just me not having a good time. Because my parents are first-gen immigrants, they're pretty closed-minded on topics that are taboo in Korea – gender and sexuality being two of them. So, naturally I'm almost completely closeted at home, meaning there's not that much stuff I can do about dysphoric tendencies, or just generally feeling gross. The process of figuring out these aspects of my identity was kind of just a matter of leaving it alone and letting it do its own thing. I never had a big epiphany. It was just realizing that not everyone felt the way I did about myself."

- an anonymous queer, trans, Korean person.

"I love that I’m part of such a rich, historical ancestry. Unfortunately, because I’m African-American, I’m part of the group of people who don’t exactly know what country they’re from. But this led to us creating our own culture here in America. Of course I struggle with common stereotypes. It’s hard to be myself in any or all situations, but as a Black person that will always and forever be Black, I have to find my peace with it. I also struggle with my Latino side, as I don’t speak Spanish very well. I celebrate my identity by participating in pride and events such as Juneteenth, and be myself completely whenever it’s safe to do so."

- Marquece, a "No Sabo," Afro-Latino, aromantic, and asexual person.

"I enjoy the sense of community and support from others who identify similarly, as well as the fact I feel a lot more comfortable with who I am now then in the past because of that. Being gay and religious, and coming from a culture that really shames being gay or just different, it’s been really conflicting for me because, as much as I love my culture, it makes it so hard to accept who I am. I have come to terms with it because I can’t change who I am, as much as I would’ve wanted to, and I think I’m happier just accepting that I can't change no matter what I’m told."

- an anonymous Arab-American, lesbian woman.

Ella Yip and Thylicia Babumba are both rising sophomores at Huron High School in Ann Arbor.

Concentrate staffer Chrishelle Griffin served as Ella and Thylicia's mentor on this project.

To learn more about Concentrate's Voices of Youth project and read other installments in the series, click 
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