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Brittany White

Interview by Kaylyn Myers.

Audio Transcription

Kaylyn Myers 00:01

All right, so we're gonna get this. So can you introduce yourself who you are and a little about yourself?


Brittany White 00:10

Awesome. Hello, my name is Brittany. I'm a mom of two. I am a fiance and graduate school student. Literacy and education are all things that I find very passionate about. And I really enjoy seeing those processes. 


Kaylyn Myers 00:40

Yeah. Okay, girl. So I want to start off with some kind of short questions. So I know that you ended Central, because we went to school together.But what was your role in the Teen Appeal when you were a part of it? 


Brittany White 0:48

Honestly, I just did writing articles, a lot of us did a lot of writing.So I wrote articles, and I really enjoyed that, because it gave me an opportunity to actually see what journalism looks like, from a different perspective, which I feel like at that age group, we only had the perspective of what it looks like, and not what it actually was. Because we haven't gained that experience yet and a lot of us at the time were planning on majoring in communications or journalism or electronic media or something kind of in that ballpark. And so it gave us a little bit of opportunity to see okay, is this what I need to go to college for? Is this going to be a career route for me? Or is this something that I just kind of enjoyed a lot, but didn't necessarily want to go to school for? And I realized that writing was something that I loved more than anything, but then I realized actually journalism wasn't for me.


Kaylyn Myers 01:41

No, right. Okay, cool. So how many years did you do with the TA? Was it? Like, did you start like, right, when you were a freshman at Central? Or did you kind of start in the middle?


Brittany White 01:57

I believe I started in the middle. If I remember correctly, I believe it was like 10th grade, I want to say. 


Kaylyn Myers 02:08

Okay, okay, cool. So before we talk a little bit more about the Teen Appeal, can you talk about your childhood, you know, growing up, you know, in Memphis, and then going to the high schools, you know, or high school in Memphis,could you give us a background on that?


Brittany White 02:22

Sure. So I went to Central, the best high school in Memphis, of course. I honestly felt like I got a really great education. For it to be a city, a school that is in the inner city, quote, unquote, urban, I got a really good education. I met a lot of teachers who were very passionate about teaching, who are very passionate about educating their students properly. And I feel like that a lot of the basics, a lot of that foundation in terms of knowledge and education, and what that stands for what that looks like, I feel like I really got a good fitting of that, from Central High. They also offered so many programs from Student Council, you know, to beta club to National Honor Society, there are so many activities and organizations for myself and other students to participate in, and I honestly feel like myself, and some of those other participants really, really, really got a foot up because we were able to come out of high school and we had a diversified group of skills that we can utilize in the real world, that really were important for application and learning and just living, you know, living and staying alive and being a productive citizen in society. So I honestly feel like I had a very, very nice college life growing up in Memphis, I felt like it was one of those stories where you can also see so many positive things were available in Memphis at the time, because so many people say there's nothing to do, there are no opportunities, you know, and it's just so boring. You know, but myself and some of the other friends in my age bracket, still we're finding organizations and things to join and things to do to make ourselves better people. I think a lot of those experiences that we’ve had really shaped us and molded us into the people that we are today.


Kaylyn Myers 04:20

Definitely, I totally agree with you on that. We were doing student council and some of everything, especially when you came from Snowden and different things like that. So it's like yeah might as well.

So how did you ,as a matter of fact, since you mentioned, you know, different clubs and different things, how did you hear about the Teen Appeal?


Brittany White 04:41

I honestly don't remember. That's a very good question. I honestly don't remember. But I do remember loving it. I remember being very happy going to the meetings. I remember a lot of the friends that I made and experiences. I don't remember how I got wrapped up in it. But I am very thankful, you know that I did it.


Kaylyn Myers 05:06

Right, Listen, I wish I knew about it when I was in high school.


Brittany White 05:14

It was a really great opportunity. 


Kaylyn Myers 05:18

Yeah, from what I'm hearing from everybody. Wow, just wow, just the amount of stories. I think it started  in the early 90s until 2015. So yeah, it impacted a lot of students from what I can, you know what I can tell. So, when you, you know, you found out about Teen Appeal, what were you most excited about when you did start it?

Brittany White 05:45

Honestly, it was the power of a voice. I feel like that's important, especially for a lot of black kids in Memphis. Someone kind of gave me a really tiny microphone and be like, hey, what do you have to say, you know, and at that time, of course, we had so much to say, and we still do. But I honestly think it was, it was just an empowering experience for them to say, hey, like you have the power to say something and you know, us  taking very, quote unquote, trivial resources such as, like social media at the times, you know, we were learning about social media, and it felt so trivial. Then now we see how big it is, you know, how huge it is, you know, I'm saying. So it was like, almost like having a small voice and having a big one. And then getting able to meet other people. And then having the confidence to ask some questions, you know, so we could get our articles written. It was really beautiful. They instilled some really nice trades with us.


Kaylyn Myers 06:51

That's really good. I'm happy to hear that really. What was it like to meet the other Teen Appeal staff? So you know, like different, you know, students coming from different schools and everything like that. I know, sometimes it'd be a little heated, especially when you are working with rival schools and different things like that, depending on the story. How was that working with other people from all over Memphis?


Brittany White 07:13

I think that was the best part, honestly. It's so easy to get caught up in your own world, get caught up in your own bubble, that you forget that there are other things that exist out there. So I've met so many different people from other backgrounds that were different than mine. And it opened up my mind. And then in some ways, it also was motivational because we will compete with our grades. There were a lot of AP students in there, there were a lot of IB students, the IB students typically came from Ridgeway, at the time, we believe it was like one of the only schools that had that program. I'm not sure what it is now. But yeah, and we compete with our grades,and we would compete with scholarships, and we would compete with, you know, all these things to be a better person. Like I met educated people that were in the same time and space that I was. And sometimes it's just a blessing just to have people occupy the same space with you. So there were a lot of it was mostly, of course, mostly girls, but of course, we had guys too. But some of those guys and gals I still see on social media, or I've bumped into them someplace out in public, you know, and it's always a really large smile, and, you know, a cheerful hug. That's a beautiful thing to see. So I really enjoy meeting other people. I enjoy meeting other people in a safe space, as well because you know, there is a lot going on in Memphis and just because someone at that time period was a teenager doesn't mean they were a good teenager. So that also gave me a lot of security to know that, hey, I'm meeting other friends in this healthy space with the other healthy adults that are supervising us. And I am in a room around like minded people. And when like minded people get together, of course, so many beautiful things happen. So I was very much, you know, very happy to have those experiences, all the way down to we got a chance to meet Otis Sanford and that was the day like, I'll never forget, like, how cool is that? Like, that's the guy you know. And so it was just such a pleasure. You know? You see everyone else in the room light up, you know, when you get these opportunities, and it's like it's impacting me, but it's also impacting other people around me. And we're just excited together and we're like, what can we do next? Like, how far can we go in life? Because at that point, it wasn't really about journalism. It was about just striving and reaching our goals, and breaking the barrier and going to something different. So we started out with these really awesome stories, but it taught us these skills that we still are using till this day. And like I said, I'm very thankful for that for sure.


Kaylyn Myers 10:05

Definitely. Speaking of that, did you have any mentors, while you were doing the Teen Appeal, like anybody, you know, just you may have talked to or kind of looked up to during that time,


Brittany White 10:17

I really looked up to one of the ladies that was over our program, she was very, very sweet. I would say to her, because she was, of course, a young black woman. She also had natural hair, which was really important to me, too. So just to see someone doing something so positive, was very inspirational, because these were college students, you know what I'm saying? We’ve been to college, getting our bachelor's degree, we understand what that looks like, as a freshman, a junior, sophomore, whatever. So you know, this, looking back they were like, hey, I'm gonna hang out with this nerdy group of high schoolers and talk about writing, and newspaper and journalism, the fact that they actually did that.

Very inspirational, you know, on its own, because you don't have that many college students who say, hey, let me see if I can help impact the next generation. You know, most college students are living it up because they're so happy to finally be out of their parents house. So to have very strong leaders,

very strong mentors to me was very important to me, because they did not come at us on you know, come at us like mom and dad kind of thing they came almost like a brother sister. Yeah, very much understanding and I think that was very helpful to myself and the other teens that were involved, because we felt like, hey, we can sit here and listen to these people.We can grow and learn from these people. And we can respect these people, you know what I'm saying? Because they were giving it to us in such an adult like way to where there was no back push, you know what I'm saying? Okay, these are really nice people, they have our best interests at heart. And I'm really glad they're here to guide us. 


Kaylyn Myers 12:24

Yes, that's real because you can't find it everywhere. So that is a blessing. So could you tell us about or tell me about a typical week at the Teen Appeal? And how was it? Like, I know, you say you have a lot of, you know, a couple friends from different schools that you know, especially still since you to this day, you know, you still see them on social media. But how was it back then, like, just as a regular work week? Was it crazy? Or was it more laid back?


Brittany White 12:46

Honestly, to me, it was more laid back. We did not meet every week because it was like we met actually at the University of Memphis at their own campus. So we did not like the winning meet every week, I believe, if I remember correctly, it was like, once a month,maybe twice a month, it was somewhere in there. But I really liked it. Because we were able to get a lot of stuff done in a short period of time, while still relaxing, if that made sense. Like that wasn't an organization that like stressed me out, you know what I mean? It was one that was really fun. I really enjoyed. So I honestly feel like, you know, there wasn't like a regular, quote unquote, I felt like there was a lot of learning, educating, there was a lot of sharing. It wasn't like a lecture style situation, there was lots of sharing and engagement. And everybody was very hands on. I mean, even some of the quiet people I saw kind of come to life. And I feel like if you manage to get a quiet person to like to say, wait a minute, I think this, I feel like you've won because there are not many quiet people you can get out their shell to talk and tell you about their experiences or how they felt. So I felt like it was just all love. Lots of love.


Kaylyn Myers 14:13

Okay cool, so what stories were you assigned? Were you assigned specific stories? Or was it just kind of like, here and there where you got different topics? How was that?


Brittany White14:24

Honestly, if I remember correctly, it was a little bit of both. People naturally, of course, gravitated to writing the things that were very important to them that they were interested in. So you might have a student like myself who's interested in, you know, all things education, but then you might have another student who's interested in all things sports, you know what I mean? So they allowed us to pick the topics that we were interested in, because asking someone like me to write something about sports. I'm trying to figure out which sport we're at. Like, is this football is this basketball. Where am I? Okay. So you know, it was nice that we were able to kind of like work in the field that we preferred, you know? I feel like they did a really good job of that. And that further allowed us to bring out some of our inner talents. Because when you know, when you're expressing your passion, your talents, like to come out a little more. And so I think there was a lot of that, honestly, just kind of doing what you truly are interested in, because they really allowed us to feel it out. Like what I'm saying, they really let us feel it out. They really let us feel it out, you know, which I think again, was really important, because you'd have a lot of kids who went to college for that, leaving Teen Appeal, you know? They didn't have some kids who didn't exactly go to college for that when we did the Teen Appeal, but they're still close, like, I'm a teacher. So I'm still in education, which is still very close, you know, to literacy, reading, communication, things like that. But, yeah. 


Kaylyn Myers 15:59

Was there ever a time where they were like, Nah, we might not want to put this story out? Or was there a story that was just too, too risque? Has that ever happened or occurred  or anything?


Brittany White  16:13

While I was there, it did not. Which is actually surprising, I don't think anything really crazy happened during my time there. The only thing I can remember from high school being huge was the Trayvon Martin situation. And that didn't really happen till the end. And I don't think I was either I wasn't a part or it was already over something. It's something like that, because I didn't they didn't agree that nothing very out of the ordinary happened. While we were apart, rather. So all of the stories, everything was very, like a light hearted, you know, more of the fun and upbeat kind of deal. But I can see where that could be a very good question. Because teenagers often do have a different look, and a different impact and feel on catastrophic events or, you know, political events or having one to explain that, you know, they do have this very raw outlook on life. Very liberal outlook on life. I think a lot of us have, you know, that we wanted justice for everything, and everybody. So that's an interesting debate. But I would have loved to see what that would have looked like, in the midst of a little bit of upheaval. 


Kaylyn Myers17:43

Yeah. Especially with the time we're in now, you know, with the mass shootings in schools, you know what I'm saying, like, all of this craziness that is going on right now. And social media is like,

raising it up, making it even more, where when we were in, you know, high school, we had Facebook and Instagram, but it wasn't as intense as it is now. So yeah, I definitely, you know, get where you're coming from with that. Do you remember your first Teen Appeal story that you ever wrote?


Brittany White 18:19

Oh my goodness I don't. Wow. Being a mom has taken all of my memory.


Kaylyn Myers 18:26

It is okay. I'm just happy that you're, you know, what I'm saying that you're giving me all of this because it's so funny how everybody has different stories, but everybody is basically saying how much of an impact that Teen Appeal has you know, gave them and it's like, dang. You know, that's crazy. So, I'm happy to tell them that, so girl if you forget it's okay. Do you remember your proudest moment, working in the Teen Appeal?


Brittany White 18:59

Honestly, just being a part of an organization that I was learning so much. I feel like my favorite part, at one point really, really I wanted to go into communication really badly. And I really learned that that just wasn't my calling. Like, I can't stress how important that is, at least for me, because, you know, college is so expensive. It is just so expensive. I would have really hated to have lost so much time just to find out that I wasn't supposed to major in communication. You know what I'm saying? I say that a lot that I'm really really, really excited to know that I found out this was something that I can consider to be, you know, a nice hobby writing in any form because I went on and I competed in writing when I 

went to college. Because I did start off at the College of Business before I went to the College of Education. But yeah, like it, you know, I was able to use a lot of my skills as hobbies, and then now as an adult, I'm looking at different avenues to use some more of my skills, you know? So it's a great thing. I don't think I have a quote unquote, proudest moment but just the experience as a whole, I feel like it just paid off very well.


Kaylyn Myers 20:31

Yeah, that's definitely good. So looking back now, is there anything you wish you would have done differently? Or are you just happy with everything? You know, that happened while you were at the Teen Appeal? So like, for instance, did you wish you had more controversial stories or different things like that?


Brittany White 20:55

Oh, actually, no regrets at all. No regrets. I feel like everything happens in life for a reason. I feel like the cards that were dealt or the cards that we're supposed to have, whether we understand why we're holding them or not. So I don't really have any regrets. I'm thankful for my experience. And I think that God gets his things in doses that we’re ready for. I feel like I wasn't ready for some of that controversy at the time. Because when I went to college, I experienced some of that controversy. And it's really different experiencing controversy in pretty much all black Memphis and controversy, and extremely racist intimacy. Those are two different experiences. Because what I consider to be wrong,everyone in this, for the most part can agree with that sentiment, you know? There's not going to be a blink of an eye if I say, you know, let's say a  police officer kills an innocent kid, you know?  I can 100% bet your bottom dollar on it that everyone's gonna say that's wrong, you know, versus, you know, having that same experience in East Tennessee. Well, his shirt was blue, yeah, it was a Tuesday. And you know, that has nothing to do with nothing, right? And I think that having those experiences in college was better for me, because there was a lot of anger that I did not understand. That came with these controversial topics. There's a lot of emotion that I did not understand that came across with controversial topics. I'm glad that I didn't experience that I feel like as you know, a high schooler, but rather than experiencing it, as a freshman in college, where I had more area and more space, to navigate those emotions of feelings, what it looks like, to me what it feels like to me, because at that point, you're no longer being infiltrated by parental influence. So you can completely think and expand in your own magnitude. So I guess I'm really thankful I didn't have some of those controversial experiences with a Teen Appeal and I more so had them afterwards because it allowed me really to grow in the ways that I feel like I would not have been able to grow as a child. Because as an adult, you're able to kind of spread your wings a little more, you know, I'm saying, and then you're able to educate yourself, and you're able to liberate, and you're able to really try to work to change in ways that you couldn't do, you know, as a child, I've had a lot of, I had my foot in a lot of advocacy work as a freshman and a sophomore in college. And I don't think I would have been able to do that in high school with my other things. So I would have definitely, definitely glad that I got it, like I said, in college, where I was able to carry those emotions and then act on them. You know, I was able to call politicians and voice my opinion, you know, I was able to go to city council meetings, I was able to march, I was there to protest, I was able to do all those things that I couldn't do as a teenager because I still had like a 10:30 bed time. 


Kaylyn Myers 24:18

Okay Mama said, go on girl.


Brittany White 24:22

Right, right.


Kaylyn Myers 24:25

Okay, cool. I totally understand that now, especially since, you know, seeing different news castings, you know broadcasts and different things like that. And I'm just like, am I ready for that? Even though I want to do PR, I was thinking about, you know, doing something, maybe on TV, but it's like, Oh, am I emotionally, you know, ready for stories like that and different things. So I totally understand where you're coming from. It's something that you just have to kind of grow and then you know, get to the point where you're able to, you know, do stuff like that. What do you think students are now missing out on now that we don't have that we don't have the Teen Appeal anymore?


Brittany White 25:02

Um, honestly, I feel like the Teen Appeal is very important because it is based on a newspaper, you know. So I understand that now people don't really use newspapers anymore. But I feel like they should have found a way to digitize it. And then to take the opportunity to capitalize on technology and helping students with still getting their stories out. Still getting articles and publications out, but through the use of technology, and to really dive into how far technology can go in terms of using your voice. And like I said, making your articles and maybe logging, just a form of electronic communication, because that's where we are right now. That's where we are in society. And so I feel like that was a pivotal opportunity right there to like, really grab the students and say, okay, let's look into what technology is doing right now. Because at that point, you're not just not just reaching the child for, you know, their journalism capabilities, you're reaching a child in the technology, and technology field. And now we're knocking out two birds in one stone, when we have these kids coming out of the Teen Appeal with very, very diversified skills, a diversified strategy that we actually didn't even have, you know, when we were kids, because some of the stuff just wasn't out yet or available yet. So I really like the kids now they're missing out on the opportunity, like I said, to learn what electronic journalism looks like, the opportunity to learn how to articulate their emotions and their feelings in a way that other audiences can actually absorb them. Because oftentimes, we have a lot of feelings and emotions about how we feel. But a lot of us don't know how to articulate that well enough for the other person to actually hear, and understand and comprehend. And I feel like Teen Appeal did a really good job with that, because we were writing a newspaper that was for a huge audience, it wasn't just for like an audience of our three closest besties, who totally understood our lingo. It was something for everybody. And I feel like being able to develop that skill to reach multiple groups of people, very different groups of people is very important.

And I feel like, you know, the kids of today have missed out on that. Because that's important to me. And I also feel like the kids got a chance to miss out on I feel like just having that experience of a positive college role model. Because it doesn't just keep the question to oh, what can they do for me? But oh, what can I do from this experience? Saying like, having those role models and mentors that were so positive to us, I feel like this generation just having a positive role model to look up to is very important. Like, they need someone other than NBA Youngboy to look up to, like make me a better role model.You know? Because we need a little more than that. So I felt like their parents are missing out on that and building some of those connections and I honestly got a chance to see how some of the college students interacted because it was on a college campus. And so I was still around a little bit, you know and the students and from the culture and that alone was inspiring. It was like I'm gonna do this one day. I'm gonna go to college too and i'm going to live on campus and I want to graduate. You know, it was inspirational.  


Kaylyn Myers 2:00

Did you do this summer camp?


Brittany White 29:06

I did a lot of stuff, Kaylyn. I don't remember. I remember Bridges specifically and their summer camp, but I don't remember if Teen Appeal did one. 


Kaylyn Myers 29:22

They did! Girl, you were a part of everything. Do you hear me? I remember when we were in high school. Okay, but I'm so happy you said that because Otis Sanford was actually the first person that my professor interviewed, and he just gave us an hour long interview of just stuff. And right now we're in the process of thinking about you know, looking at grants, different things like that to see if this is something that we can bring back. Newspapers are becoming, you know, dying out. So now it's like you mentioned, you know, we can do the Washington Post, Huffington Post and all of them have it where you can, you know, view the newspaper online, you know, what I'm saying. And a lot of our students are, you know, like you said, just to be able to articulate, just simply, you know, simple things like that. Just bringing this program back, I do think would be amazing. Hopefully, we can get this together.

So we're definitely trying to put this podcast out. Hopefully, once we put this out, it'll start to get some, you know, some traffic coming in with people like, hey, you know, I'm interested in starting this back and everything like that. Because like I said, we have spoke with Otis Sanford, but at this point, you know, this is, well pretty much out right now. But hopefully, we can get everything back on track. Brittany, thank you so much for doing this. I am so excited to show my professor this. And yeah, girl, like I said, thank you again, I'm going to send you everything once we're done. I'm assuming the podcasts and stuff. More than likely you'll either have your own episode, or you will be in the episode with someone else. The editors are gonna go and pick out everything. But I'll still send you everything and like I said, Brittany, thank you, girl.


Brittany White 31:33

Yes.Thank you for calling me. Yes. The most wonderful person. All the love.


Kaylyn Myers 31:38

No you are, I haven't talked to you since high school girl. Yeah, listen. We have got to chat somewhere, girl. Well, girl, you have a great day. Give the children some love.


Brittany White 31:55

I sure will all day. Okay. And you should be careful. 


Kaylyn Myers 32:00

Okay, girl. Thank you, too. Have a great day. 


Brittany White 32:04

You too.

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