I Could Not Be a Bystander

I realized, I couldn’t be a bystander anymore.

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Organizing to build the power of formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones is personal to me because I have been that kid who was suspended and locked up in juvenile detention, while also visiting over 6 family members behind bars growing up. Doing this work has helped me address the shame and silence I internalized from my lived experience and empowers me to be the person I wish I had known after I was released from detention.

The solutions are in the community.

Going to where people are at is an essential part of breaking the isolation people impacted by this punishment system face. Ella Baker Center members and I do outreach twice a month at Santa Rita Jail and different courthouses around Alameda County. We talk to folks about what they’re going through, help people get access to housing and employment resources, and learn about their most urgent needs to inform our policy work. And it doesn’t end there! After we conduct outreach, we regularly call people up to check in on them and do house visits to build trusting relationships and support people in speaking truth to power about the impacts of imprisonment in their communities.

2018 will be the biggest year for our organizing work in Alameda County yet! We will be campaigning to win an audit of the sheriff’s department with the goal of building a just and moral budget in Alameda County to reinvest money back into our communities. As we work towards winning bail reform for California, our local team will be advocating to implement meaningful pre-trial services and shut down jail units that will no longer be full. We will also continue to hold free record clearance clinics to remove barriers to jobs and essential services for folks returning home.

If we love each other unconditionally and show up for each other.

Everybody gets liberated in that process.

Help me continue to work for liberation through the Ella Baker Center. Will you consider making an end of year donation? Every dollar you donate will support the Ella Baker Center in carrying out our mission to end mass incarceration and win liberation for all.