Naudika Williams, 18

Naudika Williams was born in Oakland, California, but lived in a small southern beach town called Pacifica from ages 3 to 12. It was not until she moved back to Oakland that she saw the reality of education inequality. In Pacifica, where she had spent most of her academic life, college was a natural goal for everyone in school. Upon her return to Oakland, she noticed her peers, black and brown kids, were being neglected. The lack of funding, opportunities, and lack of belief and empowerment for her Oakland peers meant they wouldn't be as successful as their counterparts in other parts of the Bay Area.

Williams has been contributing to racial and educational organizations for the last four years, such as Californians for Justice and has served as the LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan) Student Director for All City Council, a youth governing board in the Oakland Unified School District that involves the community to create recommendations that advise the allocation of district funding. She has spent her high school career as a fervent advocate for equity and led the Student Voice Campaign, which passed policies requiring school districts to seek input from underrepresented areas of their student bodies, such as English learners, fostered youth, and low-income students. Williams created a student advisory committee in 2014 for the Oakland School District — the first of its kind in California — giving students a platform to advise how the district should allocate funding and prioritize needs.

As a writer, Williams loves sci-fi and fantasy, especially the writing of Octavia E. Butler, the first sci-fi author that Williams had read that included black characters and examined serious social issues. Williams is a natural storyteller and gravitates forwards topics that she thinks are funny or symbolically address the issues she wants to discuss. Writing is her own way of creating new worlds: she focuses on the future because if she cannot rewrite history, she can create a new path without thinking about impossibilities. She writes to share her own voice in order to empower her community and believes that any good story can analyze social issues and create an accessible way for people to understand them.

Williams currently attends Laney College in Oakland and hopes to be a screenwriter for cartoons and movies. To date, she has garnered many accolades from her community, including the 2015 Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty awarded by the Marguerite Casey Foundation. Williams has performed spoken word pieces at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a community space and museum in San Francisco, and CounterPulse, an interdisciplinary performance space.


A sound

By Naudika Williams


The sound of a bullet

Moves like a casual walk.

It goes out my door,

Walks up my street.

It buys from the corner store

And heads where my friends meet.


The sound of a bullet

Talks like a relative.

It comes to visit us daily

And speaks to our kin

Sharing our blood

Underneath our skin.


The sound of a bullet

Echos like high school.

It attends every class

And makes new friends,

Threatening if we don't pass

Means a triggering end.


The sound of a bullet

Rings like justice.

It patrols the neighborhood

And targets its prey,

Just innocent black folk,

Just another day.


The sound of a bullet

Isn't the voice of a black kid.

I go out my door,

Walk up my street.

I'll buy from the corner store

And head where my friends meet.


The sound of a bullet

Sounds like violence.

Out my door,

Up my street,

From the corner store,

Until we meet.