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Host & Executive Producer: Latasha Morrison
Senior Producer: Lauren C. Brown
Producer, Editor & Music By: Travon Potts
Transcriber: Sarah Connatser

Not all views expressed in this interview reflect the values and beliefs of Latasha Morrison or the Be the Bridge organization.

The full episode transcript is below.

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[Latasha Morrison sharing about becoming a partner of Be the Bridge and shopping the Be the Bridge online store] If you’ve been enjoying and learning from the Be the Bridge podcast, we invite you to join us in this work. You can support and sustain our mission as a recurring partner at BeTheBridge.com/give. You can also help spread this word of bridge building by supporting and really sporting our apparel. So if you haven’t gotten your Be the Bridge hat, sweatshirt, all of the things, let’s take the message to the street. Visit our online store at Shop.BeTheBridge.com. And make sure we’re spreading the word about all the work that Be the Bridge is doing and will do. At Be the Bridge we’re doing the work to empower people and culture toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial reconciliation. And this work is only possible because of the generosity of bridge builders like you. So thank you so much for those of you who are listening and sharing our podcast, sharing our posts, those of you who are giving to this work that’s helping us create resources and material that will transform hearts. So join us at BeTheBridge.com/give. And let’s continue to build bridges together. Thank you so much.

Narrator  1:28  

You are listening to the Be the Bridge podcast with Latasha Morrison.

Latasha Morrison  1:33  

[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!

Narrator  1:36  

Each week, Be the Bridge podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.

Latasha Morrison  1:44  

[intro] …but I’m gonna do it in the spirit of love.

Narrator  1:46  

We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.

Patricia Taylor  2:23  

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Be the Bridge Podcast! I’m Patricia Taylor, the Director of Programs, and I have the pleasure of filling in for our President and Founder Latasha Morrison for today’s episode. I’m going to be speaking with our newish (laughter) Youth & University Program Manager Kaylee Morgan and two of our youth participants, Regan Murray and Sydney Middleton. I want to tell you a little bit about these phenomenal women that we’re going to be talking to today, and I hope you all enjoy this conversation. So Kaylee Morgan is a small town gal from Missouri, that now calls the city of Atlanta her home. She’s a writer who loves to laugh, listen to music, and has a heart that burns for the next generation. Kaley is extremely passionate about championing racial justice and gospel centered unity through education and information. She serves as the Youth & University Program Manager at Be the Bridge. And last but not least, let it be known that Kaylee is the Spice Girls number one fan. (laughter) I know Kaylee, this is the truth. And next we have Sydney Middleton. She was born and raised in the Atlanta area. She is a kind and loving person, but she can be a little aggressive on the basketball court. (laughter) And there’s nothing wrong with that. She has a soft spot for kids. She loves to surround herself with energetic people because she too is energetic. And serving the youth has never been a question for her. And she hopes she could pursue a career in pediatric occupational therapy. And last but not at all least we have Regan Murray joining us today. She’s also an Atlanta native, a writer at heart and number one Juice WRLD fan. She’s a risk taker and enjoys modeling and serving her community through her work with the special needs ministry at her church and Be the Bridge youth. She has a strong work ethic and determination to do whatever she puts her mind to. So these three are going to really help lead us into this incredibly important conversation about the work that we’re doing with our youth and university program at Be the Bridge.

Thank you ladies. And hello! Thanks for joining me for the conversation today. I am super excited for us to dive right in. So here we go. Are you all ready? (laughter) Awesome. Awesome. So the youth and university program brings with it so much excitement because of the enthusiasm of our participants and the knowledge that the children really are our future. And let’s all paused because that song’s stuck in our head now. You’re welcome. (laughter) But you know, I couldn’t go without referencing it at least once. But seriously, our youth are making impacts in their spheres of influence their communities, their families, and with their classmates. And that will help us see a more equitable world. And that’s definitely something to celebrate and to talk more about. So it matters so much. And I am going to be here as a guide for this conversation. But you all really don’t want to hear from me. So I’m going to turn it over to Kaylee Morgan, who is fairly new to our staff. And we are thrilled that she is here to tell us more about our youth program and how it is helping to see the mission of Be the Bridge lived out. So Kaylee, take it away!

Kaylee Morgan  5:38  

Yes, of course. Well first of all, thank you so much for having us. And I also just want to say thank you to the Be the Bridge staff for giving me such a warm welcome. But our youth program, you’re right, it is very important. And as great as that song is, it actually does speak truth. The children really are our future. And if we want this justice work to make bounds and leaps and actually move forward, we have to train up the next generation. I always say there, you know, there’s somebody that always goes first in no matter what you’re doing. And so right now, as adults, you know, we would be the person that’s paving the way and leading the way for the next generation to come through. And so our program really is just designed to just equip students to be prepared for the moment that we pass the torch, and it’s earlier than they think it is. I would confidently say that these two ladies are already ready for the torch if they haven’t already been passed it previously. So yeah, I just think that we’re here to equip the next generation to continue to do the work and empower them to empower those that follow right after them.

Patricia Taylor  7:16  

I love that. And I love the thought of equipping. Because I think often people will say things like, “Oh, you know, the youth they just got it. You know, they don’t have these concerns. And they’re not looking at people in this way or that way.” And that may be true to a point. But at some point, we do actually have to take it to the next step and have to educate and talk about truth and equip them. Because they are going to hit a point where there are influences and there are societal impacts, there’s news, there’s different friend groups, in all the ways and so I’m glad that we can do what we’re doing and help them to see what steps it takes to live out this justice minded, more equitable world. So, I really want to hear now from Sydney and Regan, if you two are ready, ready. (laughter) You are both participants of our program. And so I want to ask you both why you said yes to being a part of what we’re doing with the Be the Bridge youth program. And maybe share a bit about what impact it has made in your lives personally. Regan, can we start with you?

Regan Murray  8:27  

Yeah, we can start with me. So why I said yes to Be the Bridge is because I recognize that like the work is something bigger than me. And it involves, you know, a community of people that I wanted to, you know, like help lift up because I’m a part of that community. And I feel like the youth is like a major part of just like what we’re building for the future. And then like starting now is like important because a lot of us don’t have the tools yet to work towards what we’re trying to work towards basically. And I just want to be a part of helping our community get to that point.

Patricia Taylor  9:10  

I love that. And I should have asked you this first, Regan, but you and Sydney are both seniors? Is that correct?

Regan Murray  9:17  

Yes.

Patricia Taylor  9:18  

Okay. And then how long have you been involved with Be the Bridge, Regan?

Regan Murray  9:23  

For like a year.

Patricia Taylor  9:24  

Okay, great. That’s fantastic. Sydney, what about you? What made you say yes to being a part of what we’re doing and and how has it impacted you personally?

Sydney Middleton  9:33  

Um, I think for me, being a high school student, it’s like important to start at like a young age when it comes to trying to make our world a better place because of, you know, all the problems that we’ve had in the past when it comes to talking about race. And I think it starts at, you know, at a young age with the people who like choose to step up and become a leader. And with me, I think being a coleader of a youth group, it’ll help me become a better leader, you know, for when I go off to college. Because that’s something that I want to do. I also want to be a leader in college and, you know, continue on these conversations. So I think starting now with the group that I’m with, starting these conversations now at an early time is going to definitely help with that. So I think that’s one thing. And then also just wanting to be able to see a difference. Like after everything that’s been going on in our world, I think, being able to be a part of it, trying to help, definitely puts a smile on my face. And I think it’s important. And it’s just something that I want to do because I want to see our world as a better place than what it is right now.

Patricia Taylor  10:52  

I love that I love that you both commented on wanting to make your communities locally, and I’m sure even nationally too and even globally, a better place for everyone. And that really takes a lot of foresight and wisdom to know that it goes beyond ourselves. Like, we do this work for the betterment of us all. So, Sydney, you said that you co-lead a group. I would love to hear more about that. And do you think you’re a natural born leader? Or did you have, you know, influences that brought you to Be the Bridge? Tell us more about that.

Sydney Middleton  11:26  

Um, I definitely had influences. I think my older brother is a huge influence. And then along with my mom, my mom has been, you know, really close friends with Miss Latasha, ever since, you know, they just got out of college. Because she went to college with my dad. So you know, we’ve known them for a very long, we’ve known Miss Latasha for a very long time. And I’ve never been one…I’ve never been one to really be a leader. It’s nothing that, not that I would shy away from it. But it’s not something that I’ve ever yet stepped up to do. But I think definitely watching my mom lead groups and be a big part of Be the Bridge. And then seeing my brother do, he’s done podcasts before, he’s spoken to other people, like he’s very well spoken. I think that also is one thing that helped encourage me to want to co-lead. And of course, this is something new for me. This is my first time ever co-leading. So it’s like, I’m still learning but trying to get there. Taking it a few steps at a time.

Patricia Taylor  12:37  

I love that. I think you hit on something so important as, you know, you have these influences around you that are inspiring you to try something that may be out of your comfort zone, but you see that it’s really worth it. And taking those few steps at a time is all we need to get started. And I do want to give a shout out to your mom, Andrea Middleton, who is also just a wonderful part of our team. And she’s the Be the Bridge leaders (laughter) group leader. And we have a Facebook group where people can get connected who wants to lead groups. So, Regan, what about, are you in Sydney’s group? Or how are you too connected? Do you guys work together?

Regan Murray  13:19  

Yeah I’ve been in Sydney’s youth group. But we’ve also been friends since middle school and a little bit before that, too. I met her at my church. And we just went to the same middle school, and then we now go to different high schools but we’re still connected in that way. So we’ve just been really good friends.

Patricia Taylor  13:37  

Oh, I love that. And how do you think and this question can be for both of you. We’ll start with you again, Regan. How do you think that having these conversations within your group has changed you for the better?

Regan Murray  13:50  

Well, I think it’s made me more open minded and like willing to listen to other perspectives. And like learn from other people in my age groups and like even adults or like Kaylee, and getting that like extra knowledge that I probably wouldn’t have gotten from like speaking to the girls in our group. And then just being able to share has helped me with my communication skills. And then just being more aware of my environments and how big of an issue racism is.

Patricia Taylor  14:24  

And what about you Sydney?

Sydney Middleton  14:26  

Um, to piggyback off that I, you know, I kind of, I agree with that. I think it’s like. I agree. Like I think it’s helping me become better with communication as well. I’m not a person…I wouldn’t consider myself a big person to, when it comes to talking about certain situations. Like this is my first time, not first time, but one of the times that I’ve had these kind of deep conversations. I’ve had before, but I think having them constantly whenever we have our meetings every other week, I think, not only am I as me being leader, not only am I like, you know, trying to help the other people in our group, I’m also listening to what the other people in the group have to say, and getting knowledge from them. We’re all just, you know, sharing and kind of growing together.

Patricia Taylor  15:35  

I love that. Kaylee, these two young ladies are phenomenal. (laughter) What do you think the impact is of our Be the Bridge groups for our youth?

Kaylee Morgan  15:47  

Yeah, first of all, yes, they are phenomenal. I have had the honor to actually sit in their group. And kind of just like kind of sit back and listen to their discussions and they’re very bright. Our future’s looking real good. But I would say the best part about these groups is it gives the students space to have these conversations, these brave conversations. You know, sometimes when there’s a leader in a room, that is like, a bit older, oftentimes that’s when the insecurities come into play. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll sit back and you’ll observe. Because I just want to take in, I want to take it all in. But what I like about these youth groups is they’re actually designed to be youth led. Therefore, everyone’s on an equal playing field, really. And so it breaks down those barriers and breaks down those spaces where insecurity can maybe drop in and creep in, and gives them a space to where, you know, having peer to peer conversations. Something I like to say is like having eye level conversations. Nobody’s looking down or speaking down to one another, but they’re all sitting around in a circle eye to eye having real, honest, vulnerable conversations. And as you progress to the guide, conversations get deeper. They get real, they get real honest. And our guys in these groups just really, yeah, just create that space where actual change can happen, not only within themselves, but within their communities.

Patricia Taylor  17:58  

I love that. I’m going to have to crash one of your groups. Okay? (laughter) But maybe I don’t want to do that. Because I’m an old person. So you are going to be like, “No, this is the youth group. Thank you.” Kaylee’s still cool. It’s okay, I get it. (laughter) You mentioned the guide that we have a Youth Guide. Kaylee, can you tell us more about, you know, the resource that we use to equip these groups?

Kaylee Morgan  17:58  

Yeah, so we have a Youth Guide and it has really five steps that you walk through as a group. So your first one is, you know, you’re going through the introduction to bridge building, you know, because if you don’t have the language to have the conversations, you’re not going to get very far. So our very first thing is to just equip you with the correct terminology. You know, we’re all on the same level on like, “Hey, when we say this, this is what we mean.” And then we walk into ourselves, like knowing ourselves, or what we call the bridge to self. And this is where you have an internal look. You look at your own racial identity. You come to terms with your background, how you were raised, what influenced you. Because if you don’t know who you are or where you came from, it’s real hard to step into spaces and really make change because you’re also trying to figure out yourself at the same time. And so then we walk into the bridge to truth and this is where we learn about true history really. And we talk often here that you need to know the history of where you’re at, in order to know the context and the culture you’re stepping into. So if you don’t know what’s going on, how are you going to change it? If you don’t actually know what has been going on? Then we go to the bridge to justice, what is true justice? What does that even mean? And you discuss that as a group. You really learn what true justice is, and how we go about it. And then the last is the bridge to healing. And this is where the real reconciliation comes into play. And you heal as a community. And then you there are equipped and empowered to then go make change, and try to heal outside of your group, but also in your schools, on your sports teams. Anywhere that you have influence, you’re bringing this healing power to it. And so that’s really the five things we walk through in these guides.

Patricia Taylor  21:08  

That’s fantastic. Sydney, I understand that your group has completed this guide. And this youth guide of ours is a values based guide. What would you say that you found to be the most helpful about about the guide itself?

Sydney Middleton  21:23  

Um, I think whenever we first as a group, we’ll send the background to the group chat first for us to read and go through and then we’ll kind of discuss it whenever we gather together. But I think the background is really helpful. It like gives us a better understanding on what we’re like really discussing, and whenever we start talking about our discussion questions. And then also the prayer, I think is also really important to do as well. So I think the background and the prayer are the two things that I think really do contribute. And I think if we just kind of start digging into the questions without kind of having a background before or like, you know, praying after, like a closing, I think it would be harder for us to kind of navigate through the questions, I think without really understanding what we’re getting ready to talk about through each lesson.

Patricia Taylor  22:24  

Yeah, that makes so much sense. Context is everything. And I love that we start the guide with laying down the foundation of, “This is what we mean here.” Because before we can even get started, just like you said Kaylee, really get started, we know that there are so many people with varying definitions and ideas of what words mean. And it’s important for us to all be starting from the same point of learning before we go in too deep. So Regan, what about you? What do you think is the most helpful about our Youth Guide?

Regan Murray  22:55  

Yeah, I agree that the background helps a lot to put into context what we’re talking about. And I think the discussion questions are also like very conversational. So we can go through each question and like have a drawn out conversation about it and not even think about, like, what we’re responding to. And then I like how it connects it to like Christ. And with the Bible verses how it’s like all biblical. And then have to pray at the end, which is like, very, it’s very nice to have that like safe space where you can you have those shared ideas.

Patricia Taylor  23:34  

I love that and you all are working on the University Guide now because you finished the Youth Guide, is that correct?

Sydney Middleton  23:40  

Yes.

Patricia Taylor  23:41  

Wow. superstars! (laughter) So what made you want to go ahead and move on to the University Guide?

Sydney Middleton  23:49  

Um, I think, because we’re getting ready to, we’re all seniors. So I think, because we’re getting ready to graduate and go to college, I think it’s important to, cause I know, the University Guide is a little bit deeper. So I think us being able to transfer it into college, I think getting kind of like a head start on it as well is important. Like I know, a lot of the homework questions will say, talk about, you know, it’ll say things, say “in your university do this.” And I think we’ll try and do that, you know, in our school community and our high school community, but I think yeah, like going through the University Guide, which is a bit more mature, I think it really will give us kind of like a head start and prepare us for what will come whenever we actually enter into college.

Patricia Taylor  24:44  

And how do you feel about that, Regan? Do you agree or is it helping you to feel better prepared to continue these conversations and your next phase of life?

Regan Murray  24:53  

Yeah, definitely. I think with the University Guide that we’re like more prepared like that we did the Youth Guide already for like the next level of questions and discussions.

Patricia Taylor  25:06  

That’s great. So it laid a good foundation before you went into that. So that’s really helpful for I think a lot of people, we have wonderful resources. And sometimes unless you pick it up and go through it or talk to someone who has, you’re not really sure just how much we have to offer. So that’s exciting to hear. Now, we’ve talked about, you know, making a difference within our communities, and you know, our colleges, potentially, maybe in our churches, or our sports teams, or wherever we have influence. And I’m wondering, what are some examples or some things that you all have done already that has made a difference in your community?

Sydney Middleton  25:46  

Um, so I know, with this being like our, you know, first time, I think, and all of us still being in high school, we definitely talked about doing certain things for our community. I think it’s been a little difficult because we only do meet every other Sunday. So everybody else has a lot of commitments, like, you know, church or sports, some like that outside of our youth group. So we haven’t found time outside of our discussions, but I do think we do plan on having like, kind of like a, at the end of our, like, after our last meeting, we plan on getting together and doing like one kind of big thing to help our community as a group. Since we weren’t able to implement it recently, with us being all being in high school, but we do plan on trying to implement something. So that’s what me and my other co-leader are discussing currently. So other than that, we just, you know, I think we’ve had discussions inside of our schools. It was one of our homework assignments to do that, to have a discussion with people inside of our school. So I mean, if you consider that.

Patricia Taylor  27:04  

Oh absolutely. Yeah.

Sydney Middleton  27:05  

We’ve done that before in certain classes before. Like I know I’ve definitely discussed kind of like topics that we’ve gone over in our University Guide and talked about it in my African American Journey class. So yeah. And I know there’s been other discussions with other people in the group, but I don’t know specifically. But yes.

Patricia Taylor  27:32  

That sounds great, though. I mean, that’s exactly, you know…I can’t remember who said it earlier in the conversation, but just taking those steps, you know, one at a time. You all are learning it, and you’re really feeling comfortable with it, growing and understanding what a difference it’s making for you. And then to have those conversations at school with your peers. That’s fantastic. So, Kaylee, what are what are some ideas maybe that for those who are listening, who maybe wants to have their students, their youth, their university child signed up, or maybe it’s someone who is in this age range listening, wondering, “Well, how can I make a difference where I am right now?” What are some ideas that you can share with us for people who are really looking to make an impact?

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Patricia Taylor  29:50  

What are some ideas that you can share with us for people who are really looking to make an impact?

Kaylee Morgan  29:57  

Yeah, of course. Well, one you can visit BTByouth.com and you can come join us.

Patricia Taylor  30:08  

Yes! (laughter)

Kaylee Morgan  30:09  

But outside of that very well set up plug, you can, I mean, you can start groups even on your own. I mean, if you are, I mean, just look at what’s around you. Who are you already around? And maybe start having some of these conversations. I would also say, you know, find teachers, find coaches that you believe too are safe spaces that maybe you could bring it up to and say, “Hey, you know, I would really like to have a group discussion on this. Do you think that would be possible?” I think that you could find local organizations that are doing the work, and just inquire and see how you can get involved. I also believe self education is key. So whether that is reading a book or taking a course, YouTube is our greatest instructor. Finding valid, correct sources that are going to give you like I said, remember earlier, the bridge to truth, true information. And I think too even something you can do is, especially in college, you can contact your local Congressmen or women, your local government, your city councils, and inquire into what they’re doing to help fight for these causes. Those are just like a few things off the top of my head.

Patricia Taylor  32:06  

Well, that’s quite a start. (laughter) I love that. I think, you know, in similar fashion, when we are encouraging, you know, our adults who want to participate, it’s start right where you are. You know? And that’s just as true here. So I love that. Is there anything else that you would add to what Kaylee shared, Regan or Sydney?

Sydney Middleton  32:28  

Um, as far as trying to make a difference as of right now?

Patricia Taylor  32:33  

Or just yeah, just ideas of you know, how to get started. If someone’s wondering, “Well, how do I get started?” Aside from joining Be the Bridge, in addition to, I should say joining Be the Bridge. (laughter)

Sydney Middleton  32:42  

I definitely agree with what Kaylee was saying about having to educate yourself before you try and educate others. Because I think, yeah, you can’t educate others without really educating yourself. Doesn’t make sense. (laughter) But like, also, you know, just carrying conversations outside of groups will make a huge impact. Like little things like that. Or like suggesting the movies to watch as well, like the ones on the Be the Bridge website. Those little things really do make a big difference. So yeah.

Patricia Taylor  33:20  

That’s really good. Anything that you’d want to add to that, Regan?

Regan Murray  33:25  

Um, just like starting small. Or like your friends or like your family find out something that you’re reading, it’s interesting, like, “Oh, hey, I learned this today about blah, blah, blah.” And then they’ll just like have that in the back of their head the rest of the day. Like, you never know, like, a small conversation could change, like, someone’s whole perspective on an issue like that.

Patricia Taylor  33:50  

That’s so true. That’s true. Yeah, that’s really good. We can’t take for granted that, you know, within our own families, you know, everyone might not have that knowledge or understanding or, you know, see things the same way. So that’s really good, really helpful. So we’re going to go back to this bridge of truth for a second. I’m going to ask you all a question. There is a lot of discussion, and I’m sure you all are talking about it in your groups. But it’s happening in the news, School Board’s legislation regarding what should or should not be taught at schools. And when it comes to truth telling I mean, that’s such a high value that we have at Be the Bridge, and that’s when it comes to history and and when we engage with each other in this work. There are some places that are wanting to ban books or no longer highlight authors of color and the list goes on. But I’m just wondering if you all have personally faced any of those challenges. And whether you have or have not, if you have any words of encouragement or advice for students who may be in a place where they really want to do all these things that you all are talking about, but their communities or their schools aren’t as receptive or open to what they’re trying to do.

Sydney Middleton  35:07  

Um, me personally, I haven’t experienced that where they tried to, you know, ban books or certain conversations. I think, at my school, I go to a PWI, so a predominantly white institution, so it’s more like ever since what happened summer 2022, I mean 2020, sorry, I feel like it’s been almost a little overwhelming about what they’ve tried to do. Like, it was a requirement for all of us to read The Hate You Give over the summer and, you know, they put up posters. And at first, it felt really nice. And it felt like at first that my school cared. But a lot of times, it also felt like they only, you know, did these things just to show others that the school is not really seclusive, and they’re trying to be more diverse. But it felt like it was only in that moment. And now it’s kind of died down. So I think I feel like…well I’m trying to think of advice I could give to another student. But for me, I haven’t personally felt that. I’m trying to think of what it would feel like. I think, I mean, yeah, that’s definitely hard, especially as a kid in high school to have to face not being able to talk about certain things that you know, have to, like, if you’re Black things have to do with your race, and you’re not being able to speak on or learn about your own history, it can definitely be hard. I think, again, I said this before, it doesn’t have to be just, I think it being talked about in schools is definitely important. But when you have things like this happening, I know that like I said before, having conversations outside of school will definitely make a difference. It really will to people in your community, your church, things like that. It really does make a difference. So I think, again, the whole thing with if you can’t, if you’re not able to be educated or learn in your school then definitely make an effort to educate yourself. Like also being said before, so I’m gonna let Regan go while I think.

Patricia Taylor  37:37  

That was great! Regan, take it away. (laughter)

Regan Murray  37:42  

Okay. Well, I actually talked about this in one of my meetings at school with the Black Student Union that I’m a part of. We watched a few news stories about it. And we kind of just talked about, like, the laws are being enforced and everything like that. But um, we’ve never had that happen at our school, or any school I’ve been to. But talking about it, we’ve kind of just like all said, like, well, we don’t feel like that’s fair. And that, you know, we should all have the privilege to speak on issues that like concern like our race, because, you know, these are things that happen as our day. And yeah, I don’t think that taking away like certain books or certain, like, rights to, like, speak about certain topics should be like enforced like that. So that’s my opinion on it.

Patricia Taylor  38:40  

Yeah, you both…oh sorry go ahead.

Regan Murray  38:41  

As far as advice that I would give students. Yeah, like the self educating thing that’s like, definitely, a big part of like learning about something is like to, you know, be willing to learn like on your own. But also surround yourself with other people that like you’re close to you that you  know and like trust with, like, learning things with like. That also, like in our group, that’s also a big part of learning.

Patricia Taylor  39:16  

That’s really good. Kaylee, I want to hear your thoughts in just a moment. But one thing that I feel like is a common thread that you both said, or at least inferred is that like, what happens whether it’s in the news or not like whether it’s that moment where you get a response because of something that’s happened in the news, or if it’s a day where no one’s hearing about anything, this is still impacting us. It’s still impacting, you know, all of you and all of us and so that’s something that we are all wanting to make sure that we are not getting caught up in like the news cycles, you know, but seeing what’s happening at all times. And not, you know, letting what’s happening discourage us from having these conversations because they can take place anywhere at any time. You know? Even if there’s a space where it says, where’s it’s a no, we can always find a place and a space for that to happen. So, Kaylee, what are your thoughts on on just, you know, some of the pushback that’s happening, when it comes these conversations in the schools?

Kaylee Morgan  40:28  

Yeah, I would, first of all, encourage the student. I want to relieve them of the pressure to have to be like a martyr or like, oh, hey, this is important, yes. You do not have to do it on your own. And it’s okay to be confused. And it’s okay to be frustrated and be angry and be upset. If your school is one of these institutions that is stopping these conversations or banning these books. It’s okay for you to feel some type of way about it. So I just want to give that permission and let them know first and foremost, you don’t have to do this by yourself. And so my big push would be find community, like Reagan was saying. Find the people that are safe, find the people that feel the same way. And I would say come together collectively. You’re going to know your institution better than anybody else is going to. Each institution is different. Hence what we were saying before about, you have to know the background and the history of where you’re at to know what context and culture you’re stepping into. So you’re going to know that. Lean into that when pushing for change. And I think if you are a high school student, again, I think knowing you’re safe people to go to to express these feelings, and express that you would like to quote unquote fight this would be one of the first steps. Also, you can find, this is why the internet is so great, you can find people online that might be doing the exact same thing you’re doing. And so reach out to them. Reach out to activists you may know. Reach out to advocates you may know. Find groups that are already doing work in their communities, and inquire like “Hey, how is this working for you guys? Do you guys have any tips or tricks on how to talk to the school board, talk to the principal, talk to my coaches about these things?” And nine times out of ten they’re going to share the information with you because they want to see change, not just in their area, but just all over – globally, nationally, you name it. We want to see change across the board. And so trust me, nothing hurts asking. The worst that could happen is they don’t answer you. And then you find the next person to ask or the next article to read. But that would be my advice for somebody who’s trying to navigate this space.

Patricia Taylor  44:03  

That’s so good. It’s a reminder we need, too, that no one’s an island. And so there are so many resources available and using the internet wisely (laughter) can really connect you with with amazing people. And just to have that reminder that, “Okay, I’m not the only one who’s trying to make a difference.” So that’s wonderful. Kaylee, I want to keep going with you because you, I am certain, are one of these people that our youth can turn to. And this is why we’re thrilled to have you on our team and I know that the youth are really excited about it too. But can you just tell us more about why you are so passionate about working with the youth and university students and the vision that you have for this program and why it matters to you so much?

Kaylee Morgan  44:55  

Yeah, of course. Well, I I have a huge heart that burns for the next generation. I really do believe that they are going to be the game changers in this movement. What we’re doing now is outstanding work. But we’re not going to be here forever. And what I love about our program is that it does, like I said at the beginning, it sets them up to continue this work and to actually see the changes be made. I really do believe this next generation is going to see some monumental things when it comes to justice work in the justice movement and justice actually being served. I am a biracial gal. And I grew up in a predominantly white area. And so I have had my own battles with just self identity even, and racially, and also have dealt with my own…I’ve experienced racism on different ends. And so what I what I love about our guide is that I mean, look, I am 28 years old, and I went through the youth guide myself. And I learned a lot myself as an adult! And so, it was great for the racial identity part of me. And what I love about Be the Bridge is that their biggest goal is reconciliation. Which is another one of my passions, I have three big passions, I have a passion for the next generation, like I said. I’m very passionate about racial reconciliation. And honestly, my last biggest passion, it shouldn’t be last, but I named it last and I’m very passionate about Jesus. (laughter) Probably should have said that one first. But it’s cool. He knows. Jesus knows. Right? (laughter) But yeah, those are my three biggest passions:  Jesus, the next generation, and reconciliation. And what I love is that that’s everything that Be the Bridge is about. And so really, if I’m honest, I got my dream job. I get to help the next generation, not only with the educational piece that is justice work, but my vision for this program is to also build them up as an individual as well. Knowing information is great, but if you don’t know how to deliver it, you might as well not know it. If you don’t know how to manage your time, you’re going to fail in trying to push an agenda. And so if we really want to see change, we can’t just information load. We have to actually develop as people, and we have to mature and develop the skills to be able to have endurance to keep this fight going. And that’s what we need; we need this next generation to stay hungry. And we need them to stay passionate and to continue to do the work. And burnout is a real thing. And this generation fights and they fight hard. And so I want to be able to give them a space to not only fight hard, but to also stay in the game. Because if we’re not staying in the game, nothing’s gonna be done. And so that is my big vision for Be the Bridge Youth is – yes, we’re going to learn how to fight for justice. But we’re also going to learn how to have an eye to eye conversation. And we’re going to learn how to talk to somebody that may be older respectfully and still get your point across. And we’re going to learn how to manage our time so we can pass our classes and graduate so we can continue to do work outside of the school. Because those are all key things in becoming an activist quote unquote or an advocate for change.

Patricia Taylor  50:11  

Well. That’s Kaylee Morgan, everyone, our new Youth and University Manager. (laughter) You can’t see me but I’m like nodding my head profusely. Everything you said yes, yes. Yes. Thank you so much for breaking that down. And it’s true. It’s the absolute truth. You know, this is sustainable. This is a lifelong journey. I remember one of the the early conversations I heard our Founder and President Latasha Morrison share, it was just so encouraging to me because it was that reminder when she she said, “I knew I had to make a decision that there may be some things, a lot of things, that I’m not going to see happen in my lifetime, but I am pushing that needle forward. I’m moving forward. Because we know that that change can and will come, because it’s happened before and it will continue to happen in the future.” And so just to be able to build in those practices and that awareness and on a practical level, as well as on a heart level is so critical. And at this age to get that, what a gift! Like what a gift that is. So thank you so much, Kaylee. Before we wrap up this amazing conversation, Regan and Sydney, is there anything else that you want to share about how life changing and wonderful Be the Bridge Youth has been for the two of you? Really, you ladies are phenomenal and I’m so happy that you joined us for this conversation. Anything you want to share?

Sydney Middleton  51:40  

I love Be the Bridge!

Patricia Taylor  51:43  

Yes! (laughter)

Sydney Middleton  51:49  

No, I really I do. I love being a part of Be the Bridge. I think it definitely has shaped me for the better.

Patricia Taylor  51:57  

I love that. Be the Bridge recommend. Highly recommend. Right? 10/10. (laughter) Kaylee, can you tell us or tell those listening how to get connected to the youth program? Because the socials and everything are a little bit different than what people may be familiar with.

Kaylee Morgan  52:15  

Yeah, of course. You can find us at BTByouth.com. You can also find us on Instagram. Again, it’s BTByouth, that is our handle on both Instagram and Twitter. And very soon you will be seeing us on Tik Tok.

Patricia Taylor  52:40  

What?! (laughter) Yes, this is really for the youth.

Kaylee Morgan  52:43  

This as for the youth! We are really out here. We’re gonna venture into Tik Tok.

Patricia Taylor  52:52  

Are you gonna dance for us?

Regan Murray  52:53  

Yeah, she is. We will be teaching her.

Kaylee Morgan  52:59  

They’re gonna teach me a dance. This is where I go from perceptively cool to not at all. (laughter) This is where I lose all of my cool points. People think I’m cool. And then I’m going to try to dance and they’re gonna be like, “She should stop.” Yeah, no, we’re gonna be on Tik Tok, we are on Tik Tok. 

Patricia Taylor  53:19  

Wonderful!

Kaylee Morgan  53:19  

And that is Be the Bridge underscore. BetheBridge_ and that should be in the notes, right?

Patricia Taylor  53:30  

Yes, that’ll be up. They’ll be able to find all this information. You all who are listening will be able to find all this information in our show notes. And we really do hope that you get connected. I really want to thank all three of our guests Kaylee and Sydney and Regan for taking your time to speak with us today about our Youth and University Program, and encouraging everyone who’s listening to continue to take those steps forward in making a difference and knowing that there is a space for all of us. And there’s not an age limit or age requirement to step into this work. And thank you for being such wonderful examples of that.

Sydney Middleton  54:07  

Thank you for having us.

Regan Murray  54:10  

Yeah, thank you for having us.

Tandria Potts  54:12  

Go to the donors table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast.

Narrator  54:19  

Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community. Go to BeTheBridge.com. Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts and Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai