City Centre Mirror
A group of talented young men and women from St. Stephen’s Community House are hoping their own experiences can help other youth navigate the stereotypes and challenges of growing up biracial.
St. Stephen’s has launched a new book titled It’s Not All Black and White: Multiracial Youth Speak Out, which contains poems, short stories and interviews with multiracial writers.
The book delves into the young authors’ own feelings and life experiences as they struggled with issues of identity.
“Growing up and being mixed race, when I’d hang out with my white friends they’d say I act too black and when I’d hang out with my black friends they’d say I act too white,” said contributor Bianca Craven.
Craven got involved with St. Stephen’s to get support in finishing her education after bouncing around from high school to high school.
“I hopped around – I went from a school that was almost all black to one that was all white and I didn’t fit in at either,” she said. “Finally, I went to Central Commerce, which is very multicultural, and had success.”
Fellow contributor Kalale Dalton said she came to grips with some issues from her own adolescence while working on It’s Not All Black and White and hopes other youngsters will be able to learn from her experiences.
“It’s very different than growing up uniracial and issues around mixed race aren’t always talked about,” she said. “I wrote about my family and how the assumption is that because I look a certain way, I’ve had a certain life experience. My family is white on one side and people don’t make that connection.”
It’s Not All Black and White is the third in a series of books penned by youth using St. Stephen’s House services. The first book, The Little Black Book for Girls, offers unflinching insights into issues ranging from body issues to school to relationships to sexuality.
That book was vetted by health care professionals, picked up by Annick Press and caught on to the point where it has been distributed across North America as well as overseas in Italy, Germany and France.
“The books are all written by youth, for youth,” said St. Stephen’s executive director Liane Regendanz. “Our youth always said ‘there’s nothing out there that speaks to us because it’s all written by adults.’ The youth are very straight-up, very honest.”
Regendanz is hopeful the new book will enjoy the same success and widespread distribution.
St. Stephen’s youth social worker Karen Arthurton, who helped facilitate the book, said the finished product was the result of months of discussions, workshops and other background work. She noted the book looks at community and identity, stereotypes and more.
“It was definitely time for a book like this,” she said. “We’re noticing a growing biracial population among our young people, so it definitely made sense to look at mixed race.”
It’s Not All Black and White is available on the Annick Press website (www.annickpress.com) as well as at Chapters/Indigo locations and the World’s Biggest Bookstore.