#1 Amazon New Release and Bestseller in 7 Categories!
Listen to Black women and Black girls. Navigating predominantly white institutions (PWI) as a young Black girl provides amazing opportunities as well as challenging experiences. The poems, anecdotes, and entries found in this book seek to provide support and guidance for Black girls in PWI's and are written by Black girls and women who are current or past attendees of PWI's. Hair, friendship, dating, motivation, information, racism, self-esteem - nothing is off limits. Fans of Black Lives Matter books The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo will love this non-fiction look at life as a Black girls in white schools by girls who have lived it. This non-fiction book for kids and young adults is edited by Diversity, Equity and Inclusion activist and teen author Olivia V.G. Clarke.
In a summer filled with calls for racial justice, a high school senior is amplifying voices of Black girls in predominantly white schools, leaving her mark and sparking important conversations. At just 16-years old, Olivia Clarke created and edited the Amazon Bestseller anthology – Black Girl, White School: Thriving, Surviving, and No, You Can’t Touch My Hair.
“I want to raise up Black voices, especially Black female voices that aren’t necessarily heard because we’re young. I wanted Black girls and women to know they are not alone and that others have similar experiences. I also wanted them to be inspired and empowered by both the book and the accompanying journal,” creator, editor, and diversity and inclusion activist Olivia V.G. Clarke said. “This book is also an opportunity for parents, school administrators, and educators to understand experiences of Black girls in white schools and use that knowledge to make anti-racism a focus, not just in words but action.”
Clarke has just released a support journal for Black girls to accompany the book and has plans to publish an ally journal in October.
Navigating predominantly white institutions (PWIs) as a young Black girl provides amazing opportunities as well as challenging experiences. The poems, anecdotes, and stories found in Black Girl, White School: Thriving, Surviving, and No You Can’t Touch My Hair, seek to provide support and guidance for Black girls in PWI’s and are written by Black girls and women who are current or past attendees of PWI’s.
Hair, friendship, dating, motivation, information, racism, self-esteem – nothing is off-limits.
Fans of Black Lives Matter books The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo will love this non-fiction look at life as Black girls in white schools as told by girls who have lived it.
This non-fiction book is edited by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion activist and teen author Olivia V.G. Clarke. The accompanying journal Black Girl, White School: The Journal is also available.
“…strong, powerful, and honest. It’s thought-provoking and insightful.” — Amazon Customer Review
“a look into a scholastic world where diversity is often defined as putting the few students of color on the academic promotion material but offering little in systemic support for these students.” — Amazon Customer Review
“…I love the THRIVE tips throughout. I also love that there is a recommended playlist while reading..” — Amazon Customer Review
About the author
Olivia V. G. Clarke is a high school senior, leader, and activist in diversity work. She serves as a leader on my school’s Diversity Executive Board, plans diversity conferences, and lead student-run faculty development activities. She is a proud member of the 2019 & 2020 Black Girls Lead class created by Black Girls Rock founder Beverly Bond.
Additionally, she is a multi-year, full scholarship attendee of the Humanities and Cognitive Sciences Summer Institute at Ohio State University. In 2018, she was selected to be a part of the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, a multicultural conference for high school student leaders in diversity.
This summer, she studied Korean as a 2020 Finalist of the NSLI-Y Summer Intensive Program through the U.S. State Department and is making college decisions as a QuestBridge Scholar.
For more details about the author and the book, visit OliviaVGClarke.com or follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
In a new book, local high school senior Olivia V.G. Clarke collects essays and poems documenting what it’s like to navigate predominately white institutions while Black
Olivia V.G. Clarke began attending a predominately white institution (PWI) in middle school, and even though both of her parents gave her valuable guidance based on their own experiences, Clarke lacked Black mentors close to her own age who could walk alongside her.
“I had to kind of navigate this world on my own,” said Clarke, now a local high school senior. “Middle school is already a very awkward time, on top of being a minority and not knowing your environment and just wanting to fit in and wanting to be ‘normal.’ But the normal you see is white, and you can’t be that because you’re Black.”
About a year and a half ago, Clarke began collecting stories and poems from other Black girls and women who attend or attended PWIs in hopes of anthologizing the entries in a book. “I was thinking about how much I would have liked to have that,” she said. “I thought, I might as well help other girls that are in a similar situation that I was, or who have already gone through this, to create a space of understanding and camaraderie.”
Clarke recently realized her goal with the publication of Black Girl, White School: Thriving, Surviving and No, You Can’t Touch My Hair, a book of essays and poems by Black girls and women with experiences involving predominately white institutions. Clarke divided the book into sections such as Code Switching, On Blackness, Black Girl Magic and What I Wish I Had, which features “Dear Me,” a letter Clarke writes to her middle school self.
“My hope would be that [Black girls in middle school] would read that and want to seek out mentorship ... specifically at school, because having a strong, tight-knit community of Black women outside school isn’t always as helpful when you’re in the moment or when you’re in a situation where you’re alone,” said Clarke, who sometimes plays that mentor role for her younger sister. “I also would hope that girls who are maybe closer to my age will read that and think, OK, I know a couple of the younger Black girls at my school or wherever I just graduated — maybe I can reach out to them, offer a helping hand, let them know that I’m here for them.”
The book isn’t just for young girls, though. “We have stories from middle schoolers, stories from high schoolers, from college students and from women who have graduate from college, as well. You can use it whether you are in middle school or whether you are now a senior in college,” she said. “The different experiences may happen at different times for different people, but most of the things in this book will happen to Black girls, unfortunately, at some point in their lives.”
One consistent topic threading itself throughout the book is the lived experience of microaggressions. “You see a lot of snide comments or things that are said in a way that’s like, ‘It’s a compliment!’ But really it’s pretty damaging,” Clarke said. “You also see a lot of stories talking about the self-esteem issues that come with starting off at a PWI so young.”
In addition to the book, Clarke also recently released a support journal with affirmations, activities and coloring pages — “Just in case you need a break,” she said — and she also plans to publish an ally journal filled with discussion prompts and reflection points for parents, faculty, students or casual readers who want to be allies to the Black community.
While Clarke planned to release the book regardless, the cries for racial justice that swept the country during this past spring and summer was confirmation that now, more than ever, Black Girl, White School is needed. “With the protests, it felt like people might be more willing to listen,” she said. “It was also very important to me that I would send this out and make sure that not only are we looking at the voices of adults and how they’re protesting, but also looking at the kids we know — the Black girls that are in your classrooms.”
Black girls are thrust out of adolescence and into adulthood at must faster rates than their non-Black peers.
Research shows that as early as preschool, Black girls are treated as someone older than they are, are more likely to face harsher punishments, and are expected to take on levels of responsibility that exceed their years.
Today on All Sides with Ann Fisher, the consequences of adultification and efforts to improve life outcomes for Black girls in Central Ohio.
- Priscilla Tyson, councilmember, Columbus City Council
- Dr. Tina Pierce, educator and advocate, founder and CEO of WORTH (Working Through Obstacles Reaching True Heights)
- Olivia Clarke, high school senior, author, Black Girl, White School: Thriving, Surviving and No, You Can't Touch My Hair
At the age of 16, Olivia Clarke is an author and a leader in her community.
The teen attends Columbus School for Girls and started diversity work when she was a sophomore. She attended diversity conferences and soon after became a leader at school.
She quickly realized she wanted to share her experiences attending a predominantly white institution as a Black girl. She began writing about it.
“I started this right before COVID hit. So, everything was really chaotic at the time. I wanted to help them in the way I wasn’t necessarily helped. One of the things difficult is when you’re a minority at a PWI [predominantly white institution] is there isn’t many of you, so you do feel alone,” said Clarke.
Clarke started to express herself on paper and she also reached out to peers and former students to share their stories. She titled the book “Black Girl White School: Surviving and Thriving and No, You Can’t Touch my Hair.” and hoped the text would provide support and guidance for young Black women. She also hopes institutions, administrators and educators read the book to ignite a broader conversation.
“It’s an important conversation to have and people may be more receptive to it right now,” said Clarke. “Also think what are the repercussions of systemic racism and discrimination in schools and how that affects black and brown students.”
“I want to raise up black voices especially Black female voices that aren’t necessarily heard, because
we’re young. I want this to be a book that ignites conversations more than anything.”
In addition to her book she is releasing two journals. One is filled with affirmations and prompts and the other is an ally journal, a place to write and reflect. You can order the book now on Amazon and it will be released Saturday, August 29.