Beyond Emancipation

Sade: Prize Winning Performer Adds a Master’s Degree to Her Achievements 

Sade performing at Beyond Idol.

As she stepped onto the stage for B:E’s Beyond Idol talent competition on a summer night in 2012, Sade Daniels had a lot on her mind.

After graduating from Philander Smith College in Arkansas the previous spring, Sade had returned to her hometown of Oakland after four years away, and was still trying to find her footing.“I was scared because I didn’t have a job yet,” Sade says, “and it didn’t seem like it was going to work out for me. I was trying not to be homeless.”

Besides, Sade says, she was there to perform an original poem, and didn’t know what to expect from the audience.

“Poetry and writing were all I had when I was in foster care,” she says, “so sharing it with all those people didn’t seem very safe to me, but something pushed me and said: ‘You might help somebody with this poem. The least you can do is try.’” Try she did, and the audience adored her.

“I’ll never forget that performance,” Sade says. “People were clapping in the middle of it, and snapping their support. It was so affirming. It was like, ‘Welcome back.’”Sade took home the grand prize in spoken word that night with her performance of her poem “Big, Dark, and Smart.”

Sade at her graduation.

The summer of 2017 found Sade walking across another stage as she graduated with a master’s in social work from the University of California, Berkeley. Soon after, she began a job she loves with the State Office of the Ombudsperson for Foster Care in Sacramento, working to educate foster youth on their rights as well as investigate and resolve complaints regarding their placement, care, and services.

Since her triumphant performance at Beyond Idol, Sade has wowed audiences in many venues around the country, and is finishing up her first novel, Razor Blades thru Pages: Chronicles of the Unwanted. Gripping and gorgeously written, Chronicles tells the story of Jamie, a young girl who uses art and rhymes to cope as she spends her adolescence in the California foster care system.

“One of the ways she sustains herself,” says Sade, “is through her creative expressions ­­–– dreams written in rhymes, letters to the governor who she addresses as her father. I really want to illustrate how that form of creativity provides a release to her when she doesn’t have anything else.”

Echoing B:E’s Creative, Connected, Resourceful, and Whole philosophy, Sade brings to all of her work a dedication to helping foster youth experience “joy, fulfillment, and happiness.”

“It doesn’t mean their physiological needs and their safety needs don’t need to be met,” says Sade. “That’s important but I want to make sure young people know they’re capable and they’re worthy of happiness.”

Sade points out that creative expression also connects young people to cultural experiences that may have been disrupted during their time in foster care.

“So when they pick up the mike or the pen or the paintbrush,” she says, “they tap into expressions that have been part of our cultures from the very beginning, bringing us joy and reminding us we’re not alone even when we feel we are.”

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