It’s hard to believe that Women’s History Month is almost over, but I’ve had a blast spotlighting so many amazing young women over the last few weeks. Today’s “Millennial on a Mission” and I share similar passion for dissecting elements of mainstream media, and how it has an effect on the youth of today. She has taken it a step further by resigning from her first job to pursue her dream of starting her own nonprofit organization. Through workshops, after school programs and mentoring, she works to encourage young people to resist negative imagery in the media, and empowers them to make positive life choices.
I’d like to introduce to you Keilah Johnson.
Hailing from Lithionia, Georgia, Keilah is a 2012 graduate of Georgia College and State University, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies. While she was convinced that she wanted to go to Howard University or Syracuse University (Go Orange!), her mother thought otherwise. “I attended GSCU mainly because my mom said, ‘This is where God told me you need to be.” And as we all know, momma knows best. Shortly after graduating, she started her first job as an account executive at PR firm in Atlanta, but after nine months decided that it was not the right fit or platform for my passions and faithfully resigned. Currently, Keilah is the Executive Director of Truth in Chaos, a non-profit organization she founded last year, as well as a red carpet correspondent and life coach.
On what inspired her to start Truth in Chaos, and challenges she’s faced:
The foundation for Truth in Chaos, Inc. began during the summer in between my sophomore and junior years of college. I accepted an internship in New York City at WNYC New York Public Radio and moved in with family in Brooklyn. While there, God began to reveal to me how much youth and young adults needed Him and how the media influence their actions. It was only the beginning to a fire and passion that is still aflame inside of me to empower youth to resist negative influences from negative media and society. The original name for Truth in Chaos, Inc. was ReBond, Inc. to represent the transition of the bond from a relationship with the world to a relationship with Jesus Christ. However, God is good because that name was not available for incorporation when I originally filed. After three hours of digging deep – Truth in Chaos, Inc. was born! It was inspired from categorizing the negative, façade-seeking and hyper-sexualized behavior in the world as “chaos”, and what I hoped the organization would bring as (God’s) “truth”.
Starting TIC has been extremely gratifying. We now have a team of six interns, have partnered with five institutions, and worked with over 400 youth and young adults! Some challenges we face include finding mentors and instructors that can adequately reach our target audience. Ideally, we would love to work with Christian college students or young adults in their 20’s, however schedules often conflict with classes and work especially since after school programs typically occur before 5 pm.
Personally, Keilah is encouraged by David, Noah and Nehemiah in the Bible, and their willingness to do what God called them to do, even though they often had to lead alone. She’s also inspired by 16-year-old women’s activist Malala Yousafzai and her boldness to speak out on the injustic in her home country of Pakistan. “Their boldness to stand up for what they believe in inspires me to do the same, even if I’m the only one left standing,” Keilah says.
On how Truth in Chaos strategically empowers young people to think independently:
A millennial becomes impressionable when they are unaware of the affect media, especially negative media, can have on their spiritual, social, moral and physical decisions. So often, I work with youth under 18 who mention they were listening to “Trap Music” or Chief Keef and then got into a fight with a group of boys; or a girl who now dances promiscuously because her favorite artists are Rihanna and Ciara. Unfortunately, they fail to connect the dots between the influence and the media source.
Truth in Chaos, Inc.’s strategy involves intentional conversations and applications with the goal of creating Change Agents. Our process includes four steps: first, we analyze media examples and bring to light the prevalence of derogatory terms and images and how they impact our lives and culture. Then, we learn the importance of having respect for yourself, your body, peers and parents, and learning how to exemplify it through your wardrobe, actions and relationships. Third, we focus on the effects to truly discover the effects negative media can have on your life, standards, morals, character, self-esteem and body. And lastly, we help youth seek understanding about who they were created to be, realizing God’s true love, and understanding what love is and isn’t.
To Keilah, a ‘Millennial on a Mission’ means really means discovering who you were created to be without all the fluff. “I love the phrase, “Millennial on Mission” because it’s activism in itself,” says Keilah. “Millennials know who they are, while stamping an impressionable mark on their community and those who surround them.” She strongly believes in surrounding herself around people who are moving and shaking. And not just in real life, but on social media as well. “When I’m with my friends, I want someone to push me to keep going, but I also want to receive the same support from those I follow online.” Finally, Keilah wants to encourage everyone, no matter what age you are to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. “Grab a devotional and grow. You can’t help to grow others until you have done some growing yourself — and the only way to authentically do that is to connect with Your Creator.”