Tytiana Curtain is a student at Howard University studying Political Science and Afro-American Studies. She has a deep interest in law, politics, and history, and wants to one day become a Civil Rights Attorney fighting against racial and social injustice.
As a black woman I’ve experienced the “best” and “worst” sides of being a minority in this country because I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and attended predominantly white institutions for most of my life. From constant debates over my right to protest injustice against communities of color and the many head turns when the topics of “slavery” and “civil rights” were taught in my history classes, I’ve had my fair share of experiences in dealing with racist attitudes and stereotypes throughout my life.
The memory that stands out to me most throughout all of these experiences was one that occurred my eighth-grade year. The second wave of the St. Louis or “Ferguson” Riots had just begun after a grand jury failed to indict officer Darren Wilson over the fatal shooting of 18-year-old black male, Michael Brown Jr. The next morning in my history course, my teacher, a white woman, began a discussion on the riots as part of her daily “hot topics” segment. She stated that the rioters and looters were “punk thugs” who deserved what was happening to them. Yet she made no mention of the underlying civil rights, social and racial issues at the root of the unrest. She shortsightedly focused on how the people outcried, instead of why the people outcried. At the time, businesses had gone up in flames, masses of black community members had taken to the streets, and all this was in protest against an unjust justice system that had proven once again, just how little it cared about its black citizens.
I went home that night and crafted one of the most eloquent speeches I had written in my life. From defining both “punk” and “thugs” to relating the current problems of my people to the historical turmoil we’ve endured, when I walked into class the next day I was more ready than ever before to stand up for my community and against one of the many perpetrators of racist ideology in the world. I told my teacher that her exaggerated fears of those rioting for justice and of black people in general were unfounded, unnecessary, naïve, and incomparable to the fear black people live with daily for simply existing.
From then on, I became top three in the state of Wisconsin for Public Forum Debate, founded my school’s first Diversity and Inclusion organization to defy racism within the school walls, served as Student School Board Representative to introduce more race-inclusive and diverse curriculum, organized gun reform, voting rights, and black lives matter protests and educational rallies. And, at my high school graduation I gave a ratifying speech that left many speechless as I spoke unapologetically about being black and of my experiences with racism by the same peers and faculty sitting before me at my high school graduation.
I am currently that same high-spirited, unapologetically black, racial justice advocate, studying Political Science and Afro-American Studies at one of the top HBCUs in the nation, Howard University. My dream is to one day use all that I have learned and experienced to fervently fight on behalf of others to promote racial justice and social reform.
MY ADVOCACY WORK
I’m passionate about promoting racial justice and social reform. Here’s some social causes that I’ve been blessed to contribute to.
I established VOICE, Voices of Individuals Changing Education, to amplify the voices of minority students in predominantly white institutions and provide a safe space to discuss and address the issues they face within the school walls. It was the first Diversity & Inclusion organization at my high school.
As a Public Policy Intern for Angela Rye & IMPACT Strategies, I researched and promoted policies dedicated to uplifting diverse demographics within big business. And also provided concrete solutions for diversity and inclusion issues within the workplace environment.
I researched, wrote, campaigned, and advocated for voting rights within minority communities by registering voters, working with Michelle Obama’s WhenWeAllVote initiative, and hosting community outreach events to help individuals become more informed on their rights.
I lead protests and rallies and participated in panel discussions in defense of racial justice on behalf of the Black Lives Matter Movement to bring justice to families who lost loved ones due to police brutality.
Some things I'm proud of
Political Science Degree Candidate
Class of 2022
College of Arts & Sciences
William D. Winston Scholarship Award
Student School Board Representative to introduce more race-inclusive and diverse curriculum
Speaker & Debater
High School Graduation Ceremony Speaker
Ranked Top 3 in Wisconsin for Public Forum Debate
Through my work with VOICE, IMPACT Strategies, and on this website, I’m able to share my research to help educate and empower others on topics that are important to the civil rights movement and justice for all.
Native Americans have had a long history of voter suppression that is often overshadowed by other voter suppression issues. In this article, we’ll tak…
Ballot measures have more of an impact on our day-to-day lives and community than our vote for US President. And yet, too often we treat ballot measur…