About a month ago, during the hype of award season, I heard Moonlight actor, Mahersala Ali, say something that shook me to my core. He said “I think what I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happens when we persecute people. They fold into themselves. And what I was grateful about playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community and taking an opportunity to uplift him and tell him that he mattered and that he was OK and accept him”.
Fold into themselves? I had never heard that phrase, but in that moment, I felt it. Felt the despair, the desperation, the hopelessness and weight of all human sadness. What an awful, lonely space to exist, right? And I thought about the youth in our community and wondered how many of them had folded into themselves. According to a report Measure of America by the Social Science Research Council Detroit has one of the highest rates of youth disengagement in the country - meaning youth are not a part of the structure and meaning that school and work bring to daily life. Why does it matter? Research says that disconnection has scarring effects on health, happiness, and job satisfaction— effects that endure years later.