Last night was the 6th Annual Who Are You? Youth Media Festival Performance Night. The festival, produced by Wide Angle Youth Media, is a month long celebration of the creativity, talents and achievements of Baltimore youth. The festival consists of a visual arts exhibition, benefit, poetry slam and performance night. I have worked for Wide Angle since September as Festival Coordinator, facilitating a group of high school students that plan, create and curate all that goes into the festival. Performance Night is the culminating event.

All day yesterday, we rehearsed for the night. It was exciting and energizing. A little stressful at times, but in a good way. And when we got to our start time at 6pm, I was nervous, but also really excited to see all that was about to happen. The performances were amazing, the youth produced videos engaging, our two emcees Daimen Poole and Samantha Gillyard charming - keeping the audience amused and informed about all they were viewing. The audience was supportive and full of people there because they care about our youth and want them to succeed.

As I sat there, taking it all in I realized that the question posed by the festival, "Who Are You?" was being answered in every song, dance and video. It was being answered by the youth participating and those that coordinated the event, but also by the Centerstage and Wide Angle staff helping to do sound, lights and video. We are what we do. Our lives are nothing more than the story of our actions, strung together in sequence. My sudden insight had a deep impact as I sat there. The pride I felt in being a part of making this event happen grew. This was something, this experience has made me something, changed me. And I knew that as each performer took the stage, they were also in the state of becoming. Their decision and the act of performing on stage, of sharing their videos of being there last night, was the next part of their story. And as they recited their lines, sang, danced and walked across the stage, that story was visible in the confidence and energy they exuded.

Congressman Elijah Cummings also joined us last night and said a few words. He recounted a story about a woman he had known in grade school who was able to draw the most beautiful likenesses of people. He said that he had spoken to her recently, decades later and asked her if she had ever done anything with that talent, she said no that her dream had died inside of her. The congressman then went on to emphasize the importance of having a place to showcase the creative talents of youth. I agree completely and the Who Are You? Youth Media Festival is one of those places. To truly be, we must honor our talents and use them or we are no longer living, even if we keep on in the world, inside we die.

So - Who Are You? What are you doing? What is that making you? And are you doing what shines from inside of you or are you dying inside?

I want to thank everyone who made last night possible. It was a wonderful event. For more information on the festival, a full list of festival sponsors, participating schools and organizations and more see: