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  • Writer's pictureMari Charlson

Hearts of the Northland: Naomi Kabuya

Naomi Kabuya is a Junior at Park Hill South High School. She absolutely loves to sleep, shop, and of course, eat! She is Head Captain of the Pantherettes Majorette and Step Club, President of Black Student Union, Junior President for Leadership Council and a member of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Council in her school district. Naomi says, "I am blessed to intern with KC Northland Strong and be a part of the Equity Team. Our team is currently working on putting out words and information about those words regarding trauma, disparities, mental health, etc in order to make the Northland a more equitable, diverse, trauma informed community." When she is not working hard at all of her endeavors, she says that she is probably sleeping, shopping, and of course eating!

One of Naomi's interests outside of all of those endeavors, is her passion for Social Work. She says, "My interest for Social-work has always been driven by the type of person I am. I know it sounds cliche, but I have always wanted to help people." Naomi believes that her purpose in life is to reach, touch and impact people’s lives. "Entering the field of Social work allows me a billion possibilities to fulfill that purpose." On the topic of social workers, Naomi says, "Growing up, when I heard the term Social Work, I immediately thought of school Social Workers that everyone was afraid of." But Naomi realized that Social Work is so much bigger than that. What attracted her to this field was that it allowed for her to give a voice to those that feel like they don't have one, or one that is not valued in this world. Naomi plans to do this work through therapy and non-profits that target people she believes are often overlooked within the Northland community.

I asked Naomi more about her involvement with The Pantherettes at her school. When asked to give a description about the club, she says, "The Pantherettes are a dance club that focuses on Majorette, a style of dance that began in the late 1960s at historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs.""Step", which is also known as stepping, is a complex synchronized dancelike performance that blends African folk traditions with popular culture. The Pantherettes mission is to provide a welcoming environment that invites individuals from all backgrounds to strengthen relationships and foster interrelatedness through the joy of dance. They are a group formed from love, built on a foundation of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Naomi says, "We promote inclusivity by allowing anyone to join which sets us apart from a typical dance team. No matter your gender, experience in dance, race, etc the Pantherettes will help develop your craft."

I noticed as Naomi was speaking on the Patherettes, she referred to the organization as a "club" rather than a "team". A team is defined as a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport. A club is an association or organization dedicated to a particular interest or activity. Naomi says, "We call ourselves a club to break the stigma and anxiety most people feel when they hear terms like “try out for the team.” I believe calling the Pantherettes a club eliminates competition amongst each individual member and promotes a more inclusive environment where we can all bond on our shared love for dance."

To bring our interview back around to the idea of Naomi's practices of resilience in the Northland specifically, Naomi has a very interesting point of view. As a black teenage girl in the Northland, she has experienced many ups and downs. But, it has also taught her how to practice resilience and recovery everyday. She says, "I am a part of the minority here in the Northland so I have faced racism, and much more." Nevertheless, she has used this adversity as an opportunity to grow. Naomi speaks on representation and how she does not see a lot of representation of herself in her everyday life. It has forced her to discover who she is as a young black girl. But on the other hand, living in the Northland has introduced her to opportunities that others might not be fortunate enough to experience. For example, connections to internships where she can learn more about her future career. Even with the imperfections that come with living in the Northland, she hopes for a more inclusive and bountiful community to come for future generations. She says, "I’m certain one day the community will get to that point."

I asked Naomi about some goals that she has for herself to achieve in the next 5 years. She says, "In 5 years, I see myself graduating from Howard University with a degree in sociology and beginning my masters program in social work. After graduating, I will pursue getting my masters. I would love to be living in Washington, D.C. and interning with a practice where I am able to explore the micro side of this field. " To expand on this idea, I asked about her goals for the next 10 years. Naomi says that in 10 years, she sees herself being a licensed therapist working the macro side of social work. She says that she sees herself starting a non-profit organization for incarcerated people that blends her passion for fashion. "I will give them necessary resources, like a new wardrobe, to start over when they are released from prison." As far as where she wants to live, she says that she wants to be living in her own home on the East Coast. Overall, she wants to see herself and be proud of what she has accomplished. She is optimistic about what else the future has in store for her.

Naomi is such an incredible young woman. She has such incredible goals for herself and her bright future, and we cannot wait to see where she goes.

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