My commitment to this work is shaped by a history of witnessing state violence. I grew up in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, a queer Black woman from a low income, heavily policed, barrio during the War on drugs and the War on Gangs. It was during the 90s that I witnessed the Los Angeles Police Department heavily patrol my neighborhood. Often I watch my brothers, then teenage boys, be stopped and frisked. This early familiarity with police, surveillance, and incarceration became an integral piece of my understanding of the world. My biological father spent most of his adult life in prison only to pass nine months after his release in Spring of 2009. His death was a clear marker that mass incarceration kills people prematurely.
I have been organizing for over 11 years, with experience in leading campaigns, winning victories and training leaders. I was the lead organizer in the Labor Community Strategy Center's/Bus Riders Union Student Bus Pass Campaign, which successfully protected the discount student bus pass for all students k-12 and college. I was also one of the organizers of the Labor Community Strategy Center's Community Rights Campaign which has won major victories towards decriminalizing truancy and amending Los Angeles's daytime curfew law.
Currently, I am raising money for the organization that I created and have been developing for the past year. Dignity and Power Now is a grassroots human/civil rights organization fighting for the dignity and power of incarcerated people, their families and communities. We are currently the host of the Coalition to End Sheriff's Violence in L.A. Jails. The project is a campaign committed to fighting for the human rights of inmates inside L.A. County Jails. I have also been leading a host of workshops across the county to continue to push for more accountability and transparency of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. Although Dignity and Power Now has only be around for a year it has accomplished so much. I have managed to run an entire organization on a very small budget.
Dignity and Power now is also the host of the Freedom Harvest collective. The artist collective is using art and culture to help produce an alternative narrative of those who are incarcerated inside jails and prisons. We use the dandelion as a symbol to change the stigmatizing and demonzing descriptions of family and friends who are incarcerated. Like them, the dandelion is often seen as a weed, a nuisance to be uprooted and forgotten, but in fact, it is a very medicinal plant. Lastly the organization produces a quarterly zine called Dignity and Power Quarterly. The zine focuses is on the impacts of incarceration on Los Angeles County. As Excutive Director, I am currently managing and directing all of the 5 projects housed under Dignity and Power Now. In order to continue to work as my full-time job I need to raise $10,000.00 in the next 30-60 days. I have dedicated my life to this work and it literally amounts to 80-90 hour work weeks. Support Black Women Leaders by donating today!
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