Diary of A Young Pro: Jay-Marie Hill

1) Where are you located?

I am located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

2) How old are you?

I am 24.

3) What is your job title?

I have two jobs. I am a youth organizer for The Brown Boi Project and I am also the administrative manager for Robert Moses’ Kin Dance Company.

4) Tell me more about your involvement with the Brown Boi Project.

The Brown Boi Project is a national leadership organization that works to support and transform the way masculinity is defined in the world. Broadly defined, masculinity often automatically includes straight men and gay men. But it also includes genderqueer people, transmen, and masculine women. The organization works to achieve racial justice and gender justice through trainings, workshops and retreats with black and brown communities across the country. This year BBP has a pilot program bringing this work straight to our families and their young people. As a youth organizer for this pilot program,I work with middle schoolers,specifically 7th & 8th grade boys in East Oakland.

5)What kinds of activities do you plan with your middle schoolers?

 We do a range of activities with the youth. These range from referring and coaching lunch sports teams, to gardening, to our main work – discussion and physical activity, with the boys after school. We facilitate conversations about race, class, and other issues that impact racial and gender justice.  We also help with homework and meet with teachers throughout the month so that we can help the boys stay on top of their academic responsibilities.

We are currently discussing race and nationality in within communities of color.  We just finished talking about Arab communities and we are going to focus on Native American/Indigenous communities, and Chicano communities.  We really encourage the youth to seek out information about different communities of color throughout the world and to recognize the beauty within society.

6) How has the transition been from back to briefcase?The transition has been difficult.  After college, I went to graduate school for Teaching and taught 4th,6th, & 7th grades. After that, I went back into theater and also worked at an internship at YBCA (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts). I say that it has been difficult mostly because it wasn’t a straight path.  I was actually on unemployment for a while.  It took me some time believe that I could build a sustainable income with my passions. For example, I was very involved with theater during my undergraduate years but as I neared graduation I started to question if it was realistic to do theater full time. I also felt like as a full-time job, it didn’t really allow all parts of me to thrive. Similarly, I really enjoyed teaching in my classroom but I realized that I could not bring all of myself to the job because I could not discuss the topics that excite me in the ways I craved to with my 9 year olds [Don’t get me wrong – we still talked about them!].  So, my path has been windy but I have finally found work where I can truly be all of me every moment I’m there.

 7) When you were in college, did you imagine your life where it is now?

 I really didn’t imagine my post grad life when I was a freshman.  To me, college was a place to explore. I was interested in exploring my full self. I did so many social, athletic, and intellectually oriented activities because I wanted to expose myself to a range of possible realities for my future. I only started thinking about my future during the summer before senior year while I was interning at a theater in South Africa. By the beginning of senior year, I decided to apply for teaching positions because I knew I had something more to offer. Working with youth and within public schools also felt like it would keep me grounded in the communities that I care about.

8) What is the best advice your received from a mentor about adulthood?

Work isn’t the only part of your life. Work is just an extension of yourself. Money is not everything.

9) What advice would you give to a young professional?

Don’t settle with the idea of working the “traditional” job. The world is waiting for you to fill a need that only you can fill.  If you want to do something, just go do it. But don’t let fear stop you.  Also, do not underestimate the importance of having support system.  My parents have insisted that I live at home since graduating from my Master’s program because they know the importance of having a solid foundation in the years between 18 and 25. Even though it seems limiting at times, I know it’s actually the opposite and I am very grateful to have a strong support system.

 10) What is next for you in the next 12 months?

I’m raising money for our end of year campaign with the Brown Boi Project called 30 Days of Brown Boi. If you’re interested in donating, whether one-time or becoming a monthly supporter, please do so here! This money will go towards our organizational summer campaigns. I hope to be travelling with many others from the organization to raise awareness of our purpose and work throughout the state of California. My goal would be to have our young bois travel with us.  I would also like to seamlessly combine my two jobs. I am very passionate about working with the Brown Boi Project and Robert Moses’ Kin and I want to find a way to merge these passions even as I move on to other positions and organizations in my career.

 11) What makes you special?

I can fit into many circles and still be myself in all of them. I think there is power in mirroring the people you work with. It is tricky because you should never lose yourself in the process. But when it melds together it is a very beautiful and fulfilling way of life.


Author: Lexi Butler

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