They’re Not Teens, They’re Women: Get Lit

I just discovered this video yesterday, from The Queen Latifah Show, and it absolutely blew my mind. It’s so powerful and strong and brave.

The three girls… women… are (from left) Belissa Escobedo, 16, Zariya Allen, 15, and Rhiannon McGavin, 16. They’re part of a group called Get Lit, a Los Angeles-based non-profit that uses poetry and spoken word to increase teen literacy.

I stumbled in describing them because I generally use age 18 as the cutoff for whether I refer to someone as a child or an adult. If a female is over 18, then they’re a woman; under 18 is still a girl. But these three are so mature, so self-assured, and seem to have been through so much, it doesn’t seem appropriate to call them “girls.”

It’s shocking, and sad, to think about what teenagers go through these days. I honestly have no idea, because high school was such a long time ago for me, and I don’t have human children of my own. I don’t know how today’s high school kids’ experiences compare to mine, especially since I went to a very special high school—but it seems a lot worse. Not that it was all peachy keen for me; there were certainly problems when I was growing up too, but it seems so much more severe now. Is it just that we hear more about the terrible things that happen because news travels so much faster on the Internet, and because (fortunately) more people are willing to speak out about them? Or are there many more incidents than there used to be?

I do know we think about things differently now. We’re slowly realizing that things that are frequently thought of as just human nature, or “boys will be boys,” or even “normal,” really aren’t. It’s not normal to be abusive to someone, whether they’re siblings or friends or total strangers. It shouldn’t be expected for a man to feel entitled to a woman’s body simply because he’s a man, or for a woman to belittle her own self-worth or sense of safety simply because a man shows interest in her. It isn’t normal for police offers to assume that men are guilty because of their color, or for anyone to assume the worst—or the best—about anyone because of their gender, race, class, or social standing.

I certainly don’t think I was as self-aware when I was a kid as these women are. I’m not sure I’m that self-aware now. If I was, I certainly wasn’t brave enough to speak out about it or perform it in front of strangers. I only recently wrote about an experience I had on the subway in high school, which I’m hoping will be published soon on the amazing website I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault (if you’re not familiar with it, please check it out). I never had the courage to tell anyone about it before.

I’m so grateful, and so hugely impressed, that these girls are doing this. More power to them. Please listen, and share, and let’s do something to help them change the world.


4 thoughts on “They’re Not Teens, They’re Women: Get Lit

  1. Now, this… this required a few times of reading it and watching it. They are truly incredible, wonderful, amazing women. (Yes, there is no question they are women and have been longer than most.) And to put that out – it is exceptional and needs to be shared. It is scary to think that there is a need to increase literacy, as we in this family are all avid readers, but clearly there is that need and it is out there.

    I think we were more self-aware than others at our respective ages (two and a half years apart) because we were the abused in school. It made us tempered and different, even more so from our “peers”, if one could truly consider them to be so. It gave us an earlier perspective on what it is to be belittled, spit on, looked down on. I went through a full three years of staggering abuse from the others – 8th grade through 10th – but came out clean on the other side, like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption (one of my most favourite movies). while nothing can remove the pain that we went through during those times, I know – know – we left that part of our lives behind 10,000 times stronger than we went in to them.

    Also, I see in myself that mild amount of Asperger’s (as well any true Geek, and Geek-Adjacent) well knows. Look into it and see if you don’t recognise yourself, but especially Luis (!) in there. I did immediately – although NOT from reading about it, but during a long conversation with Tom, my closet friend, whose son has severe Asperger’s Syndrome. We may not be severe, but we had enough of it to make us stand out in the way we did. You were very lucky – I would have loved to go to your high school! Was it perfect? Who looks back on High School and thinks that?! No one. But was it better? Hell, yes.

    Actually, you told me that story. On the subway. I’ve never forgotten it. I will be interested to read that, too.

    I love this post, too. Again, it is not easy to look back at these things. And it is easy to think we weren’t self-aware, but I think we were, just not about all the things these women are.

    • I’m not sure I told you the exact subway story I’m referring to here… there were a few, believe it or not. Hopefully it’ll be published eventually.

  2. Michelle D

    These women are phenomenal. I can’t believe I’m just now discovering them. I’ve watched their videos over and over again. It’s made me want to get back into spoken word, but I don’t know where to start. Once again, these women are amazing, and have inspired me so much. I’m older than they are yet I look up to them. Amazing.

    • I know! I look up to them too, and I’m also much older than they are. I can’t imagine being that aware of the world when I was their age. 🙂
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Michelle!

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