Layla Hussein

2021 – NEW YORK (NEW YORK CITY REGION)

As a Bronx native who grew up surrounded by the arts, Layla Hussein uses storytelling as an ingredient of reshaping the stereotypes of marginalized communities and combating underrepresentation across various fields. As a current high school junior attending Fordham High School for the Arts, Layla has flourished into a leader within her school community and NYC in its entirety. She is the co-founder and executive director of Journals of Color (JOC), a Bronx-based and teen-led literary magazine that works to increase BIPOC representation in literature through monthly publications. It not only serves as a unique platform for Bronx teens to creatively express and amplify their voices, but it ultimately serves as a motivator for Bronx youth to stimulate change by utilizing their superpowers of writing, art and photography. After a month-long creation process of its first issue, Identity, Journals of Color amassed 200+ page views, sparking praise and recognition from Bronx organizations like Bronx Documentary Center, Bronx Native and Bronx Collab. Numerous guidance counselors across Bronx schools have expressed their support by encouraging more students in their school to join the Journals of Color team. As their work encompasses a powerful collaboration of advocacy and creativity among a team of 40+ teenagers, teachers included JOC work in their curriculum, as they find it valuable to include diverse, raw young voices from the community in some of their lessons. Additionally, their Instagram page (@journalsofcolor.mag) offers another opportunity for Bronx teenagers to collaborate and educate their audience, with articles centered around racial issues, breaking news, BIPOC history, cultural holidays, and Bronx news and spotlights. The work on their Instagram has been reposted by national organizations, such as Girls Who Code, to help amplify and educate others about racial discrimination. Outside of Journals of Color, Layla is actively involved in the Bronx Borough Student Advisory Council and the Chancellor's Student Advisory Council. She collaborates with other youth leaders and DOE stakeholders to produce equitable and engaging communication platforms to enrich the 1.1 million voices of NYC public high school students. Layla also serves as a National Curriculum Council Member at Diversify Our Narrative to create anti-racist curriculum and pedagogical resources for K-12 teachers of all subjects. Layla will continue to reimagine and shatter social norms through various initiatives she will implement in Journals of Color, including mentorship programs, contests, panels, workshops and more.