We asked Brent to write a few words about his new position with Youth on Record:
I am writing you as the newly hired Director of Programs at Youth on Record, a statement which, when stated out-loud, fills me with an overwhelming joy and sense of purpose. For those of you who are yet to know me well (and I hope that I will come to know all of you well) here is a bit more about my journey in becoming thus far:
I was born here in Denver, Colorado and have lived in Colorado all of my life. I spent my formative years between Aurora, Fort Collins, and Denver, CO. I attended grade school in Aurora and then college in Fort Collins. I graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in both Political Science and Ethnic Studies, and am scheduled to finish my Master’s degree in Ethnic Studies in the Spring of 2018. I began working in education in 2008 teaching gender violence prevention education in the Pouder Valley School district for the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA) Center in Fort Collins. Since then, I have developed and offered liberatory consciousness-building workshops at community organizations and guest lectures at high schools and colleges/universities both locally and nationally discussing a multiplicity of social-justice topics. Additionally, I most recently worked as a Youth Community Educator Program (Y.C.E.P.) Coordinator at Project PAVE where I also helped to develop and implement a healthy masculinity program for 7th and 8th grade football players in Denver and Aurora Public Schools in partnership with the Denver Broncos. Finally, for the past three years I have taught Spoken Word Poetry and Audio Production as a Partner Artist for Youth on Record, the majority of that teaching being at Collegiate Prep Academy in Montebello.
I am honored by the opportunity to step more fully into the professional work that aligns so well with what I have chosen as my life’s work. How I understand my life’s work is as a servant bringing about the increasingly efficient and effective catalyzation and crystallization of consciousness in young people intended on revealing to them their own self-power and knowledge, self-power and knowledge they can use to heal their own past wounds and the wounds of the world, navigate upcoming challenges in all realms, and ultimately create the world with a safe and supported place for everyone we have dreamed about for so long. It is my firm belief that the ideas and actions necessary for our collective healing and liberation are waiting to be unlocked in the generations of young people developing as I type.
In my new position, I am looking forward to working with Jami Duffy, along with all of our staff and Partner Artists to further develop and expand our programming and positive impact. Additionally, I am excited to begin working on new programs as we evolve and grow as an organization and community. I am hoping to transform Youth on Record in offering it the best of me, and am hoping to be transformed by it as I grow to fulfill my obligation of serving it with the fidelity, integrity and care it deserves, with the fidelity, integrity and care that you all deserve.
A Q&A with Brent:
Was there an adult in your life who guided you towards this work, and who mentored you along the way?
Definitely. I did not come into my own consciousness, which required a deep and difficult critical self-reflection and transformation, until I found the Ethnic Studies program in college. It was there that I took a class with Dr. May Fu. At first, I was unsettled and even angered by her course content and fierce embodiment of her politics which challenged mine at the time. She asked a lot of me academically, personally and politically, more than anyone ever had (what I mean by that cannot be explained in the space of this letter). Eventually, however, I came to understand that the fire she started within me was not meant to destroy me, but to renew and restore me to what I had always had the potential to become. I took as many classes and attended as many office hours as I could with her. We eventually became and have remained close friends ever since and she has always been there to guide me through my most difficult moments and to support me at every stage of my growth. I would not be the person you’ve met without her.
What are your thoughts about YOR as it relates to the changing landscape in education, urban development, housing, etc?
I think that Youth on Record has the ability to influence the architecture of those structures and systems in a way that is equitable and just because I have already observed that happening. In the future, I think Youth on Record will exponentially increase to this in a way that we have not yet seen, and which is so incredible that it is even difficult to imagine now. It is a large part of what drew me to Youth on Record in the first place.
You're finishing your Master’s. That's so exciting. Talk to us about what you're learning, studying, and finding as you pursue your graduate degree.
I am currently finishing my Master’s degree at Colorado State University. I am in the Ethnic Studies program and am finalizing my thesis. My thesis explores the themes of straight white working-class cisgender masculinity, father-son relationships, and mass violence. If I could put what I’ve learned into one thought, it would be that pain is at the source of much, maybe all, of the violence and hate that we see in the world, and that our path to peace and justice begins with self-reflection, introspection and healing.
What do you love about this generation of teens?
I love that they’re cooler and funnier than me, something I did not believe was possible ;). Honestly, I love how open they are. I’ve learned that I can present new and complex ways of thinking and understanding to teens and they are able to interpret and incorporate this into their worldview much more quickly and easily than many adults I’ve worked with.
Anything else you'd like us to know?
I am often seen working in and moving through the world alone, but I would like to share that I have an amazing partner. Her name is Mollie and she Is at least as busy and independent as I am. She is the Principal Hornist in the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and a Co-Owner and Founder of Crossfit NOLA in New Orleans, Louisiana. Additionally, she teaches horn at Loyola University, coaches at her gyms, and competes as a crossfit athlete at the national level. I have believed for some time that each of us has all that we need to thrive already within us, but Mollie is a constant and often necessary reminder for me that thriving takes on a special and worthwhile quality when it is done in partnership with others. She has performed for Youth on Record students who loved her, and I am hopeful that she will again in the future.