A simple photograph can hold wonders. It can carry some of the most jubilant memories a person may have, or it can recall some of the most tragic. Even though we are in the age of cell phone cameras and digital cameras, there will always be intrinsic beauty in the simplicity of a photo, taken through a roll of film, developed in time. In the spirit of “snapshot” writing, this week, we dug out photos of ourselves, some past, some present, and reflected on the moment captured by each photo.

Laqusha, 20

“Angel Talkin’ Days”
Look at little ol’ me, all gums and no teeth, but with plenty of chunky cheeks. I don’t remember anything about this picture, but I do know those were my angel talking-days. My mom told me there were nights when my dad and her would wake up to me laughing and talking (baby gibberish of course) in my room. They would quietly creep in so I wouldn’t hear them check out what was going on. She told me there was an angel lamp next to my crib and that I looked like I was in a conversation with it. I would stand up in my crib and just be engaged with the angel lamp. My mom said they would just stand there and watch. She also said it used to creep her out and then she would put me in bed with them. She said she knew there was something special about me, so from then on she paid more attention to me.
Angelina, 15

“You and I, Us”
Looking through all the albums
There’s bunches of pictures of you
But you were always dressed up
You were always by yourself or
Surrounded by all of us
There weren’t many pictures
Where you didn’t have makeup or
You weren’t dressed up
There weren’t many of only you and I together
But this one
This one caught you not dressed up
This one caught you how I see you everyday
This one caught a smart and strong woman
This one caught a powerful mother to eleven children
This one shows the wrinkles of hard work
This one captured you, mother
Along with you, this one captured me
A young lady who looks up to you
A daughter that is trying
Trying her best to not let you down
Trying so hard to be as strong as you
This one caught us
The only picture of just the two of us
The picture of a daughter and mother
As close as ever.

Patrice, 17

“Who I Used To Be”
I remember asking my grandma for a picture of me when I was of younger age. She responded with a simple yet sad “no”. Not knowing or seeing your past can make a person feel empty inside. It can leave you wondering at night, trying to paint a picture of who you used to be and imagine the features that have now developed. That’s what I was left with until…

I was looking at me but not in the mirror, and I wasn’t 17. I was face to face with my childhood. Me as four years old, happy and standing in my grandma’s old front yard. Skinny as can be, holding a pink and green tennis ball. Now I have an image of my past and I get a sense of who I used to be. Now I’m left with hope for the future. You don’t know where you are going if you don’t know who you used to be.

Marcus, 18

“Easter Sunday ‘92”
In this photo lies a unit untouched by the perils and dismay brought by useless bickering, tightly knit at one time. Now relationships have grown faint like a flickering light. Carefree with no worries, only crushed after seeing you buried, a long absence of the one who separates from the unit while others pull close like a snake in the grass, waiting for a chance to grasp what has not been there. A loss of words you proceed to stare into space and time, and wonder why thrust into celestial bodies. I want to kiss my childhood. You chose to miss out like another family function, leave me stuck searching for something not yet obtained and far away stationed, and could give a f*** so only for life I thank you, only sought to be loved and after it was all said and done, you couldn’t get a piece of love from all five of your sons and one daughter. May God bless her soul, I will only get a glimpse after I’m dead and gone northbound to a place I call home and am constantly feenin’ for.

LaKenya, 17

“Margaret Rose”
Barney was my favorite character. This picture was probably taken around Christmas because of the poinsettias and my warm Barney PJ set. The table laced with wood opened, and inside and on top there were pictures of all of my friends and family. As a matter of fact, in the wooden table is where I got this picture. I honestly don’t know why I had that white hat on. I’m guessing because my hair wasn’t combed. The spreading of my fingers was probably my way of posing when I was that age, which was about 2 or 3. I noticed the words “Margaret Rose” on the back of the picture. I was told that was the name my great-grandmother called me by. I don’t remember her too well, but I have heard stories about her. It is said that she called me “Margaret Rose” because when she picked me up, my cheeks would turn bright red as I smiled at her. This is one of my favorite pictures.

Arena, 16

“My First Picture With The Know”
I remember this group picture of The Know. We just finished our photography workshop, not knowing we were now going to take a group picture. As we all walked out of New Millennium, I remember hearing someone say “we all look crusty today.” We all were cheerful as usual, and then we saw a car parked in the parking lot. I remember saying, “Hey, isn’t that Mai Der’s boo?” Some of us giggled as we walked across the street. It was almost chaotic as we all decided where we would stand. Kevis wanted to be in the front, but he would have blocked everyone, and Mai Der didn’t even want to be in the picture. We somehow managed to convince her to be in the picture with us. We all gathered around for the picture to be taken by Joseph Smooke, our photography teacher. I can’t believe my hair was that long and I definitely had no idea my smile was that big. It was the first group picture of The Know youth that I was in.

Kevis, 17

“Feeling of Pride”
I have one of the best feelings in the world right now. Happiness, pride and joy make up this critical state that I’m in. Class ring is on the right hand, while the diploma is on the left. The bright rich gold textured sash placed gently around the back of my neck to give me my pride. The vibrant colors of the black and gold tassel hang from my cap with the numbers 2008. It symbols my happiness. The black gown that suits a flawless fit on me symbolizes my joy. And thus, the day of my commencement begins…

Jaleesa, 18

“Salty Kisses”
It’s been a while since I’ve seen you. “Welcome back,” you breathe at me softly. I have returned to you, not only to let my mind recover, but to discover more of your natural beauty. I came to you again to see what lies beneath your vast, vague surface. Life…much life breathes within you, and I wonder if you ever wish to see what lies above you….beside you, around you. I have you in my mind, but this photograph of you is a mere glimpse of what I saw of you. Maybe people can feel what I feel about you. Maybe, someday, everyone can see who you are. Maybe they can feel your love and your light, and your salty kisses. This photograph captured your surface. When I return, I will find what lies beneath.

Anna, 17
(no photo included)

“Last Memory”
It’s been about one year and eight months since I last saw her. She was my everything, the light to my world. My world turned dark when she left this earth, leaving me lost and confused without her hugs. Her tender sweet voice waking me up, her kisses which always brightened my day, and her soft light skin I hugged through the night. She was my soul, my heart. The reason I was alive. The last memory of her is a picture I keep in my wallet, with pink as the background and her looking fly in her model pose. Her light blue jean skirt and a white blouse, with her long but short brown hair hanging down her shoulders. My sweet Alysha. So unforgettable to me. The last memory I hold of her is what lets me breathe. The picture of her beauty saved in my wallet where I take it with me in every step I make. My angel from above. May she rest in peace

Jesse, 16

“I remember” (fictional piece)
I remember going down the narrow path to get to Mulberryville. I remember admiring the big oblong shaped boulders as I counted the lines on the black pavement, staring aimlessly through the back of the red station wagon. I remember the turns that kept going, it seemed to continue endlessly around the bend. I remember the occasional sighting of a blue jay sitting peacefully on the fall colored trees. I remember wondering how long it would take to taste Aunt Valerie’s raspberry cream pie, freshly squeezed lemonade, and homemade vanilla ice cream. I remember late at night hearing mother and father laughing with Aunt Valerie and Uncle Joe as my cousins and I lay in bed talking about recollections of schools, friends, and letters we wrote to one another. I remember going down the narrow path to get to Ashtonville. I remember…I remember…I remember…

Gracie, 16


“Philippe Petit on Tightrope” (fictional piece)
A windy afternoon in New York City, I’m just walking down the street, moving my feet to the New York beat. I look up and what do I see, a man staring at me. All his focus on trying not to fall off the one piece of rope holding him up. I pause a moment to see this extraordinary event, hoping that the balancing stick he was holding would help him get across the rope to the Cathedral of St. John Divine. All traffic was stopped just to see this marvelous event. Slowly but surely, he made it across within minutes. Everyone stared in amazement. As he exited the Cathedral, I continued my walk down the street and minded my day. But in my head all I could think about was the courage he had to walk across that tight rope. He inspired me.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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