Betye Arrastia-Nowak is in the ninth-grade and lives in upstate New York with her father Mark Nowak, a writer, and her mother Lisa Arrastia, who teaches at SUNY Albany. "Illuminating the Blackness of Invisibility" is Betye’s first public poem; it’s inspired by Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man and the most recent murders of African Americans in the U.S.
Betye has been a member of Kite’s Nest’s Social Justice Leadership Academy, and she has learned directly from participating in Black Lives Matters protests as well as talking with and listening to writers like Amiri Baraka, Claudia Rankine, Pete Seeger, other artists, and especially her family. Betye believes that social change will occur if people accept that people are different and don’t try to force others to be who they think they should be. She wants to help everyone accept that the world is hurt, that we all play a part in that hurt, and by ignoring social justice we help it to continue.