Noname was my #1 artist in 2017 according to Spotify. She was a frequent participant of YouMedia Labs in Chicago’s library, a program funded by the same grant that funded the program I worked for in North Philadelphia in 2016 and 2017. It was a privilege to work with so many creative, talented kids.
I think I listened to Noname so much because her music reminded me that there are positive take-aways from these initiatives, even if it’s just creating a place for folks to openly and safely express themselves. It was hard to see the positives sometimes when we worked so hard for so little, with beyond incompetent leadership. Noname’s music helped me wade through the trenches.
I’m grateful for the experience of working there, but also grateful to have moved on.
In Noname’s words: “In terms of me like figuring out what it is that I wanted to do in life and who I kind of felt home around was in YouMedia,” she says of the teen-centered learning and creative space at Harold Washington Library. Her interest in writing led her to the after-school program, and from there, she workshopped poems and found like-minded young people and, later, open mics. She continues, “I spent a lot of my teenage years kind of just moving around the city freely and discovering new creative spaces.”