I was so moved by the activists, organizers, artists, formerly incarcerated people and community members across various backgrounds who came to stand in solidarity with incarcerated youth around my age. This parade embraced and uplifted the voices of youth affected by the school-to-prison pipeline in Virginia, (where they occur the most) by wearing silk screened t-shirts, holding up banners, and calling powerful protest chants, all created by incarcerated youth.
While I already knew that Black youth were seven times more likely to be detained in Virginia than their white peers, I wanted to change the narrative of this conversation surrounding youth incarceration. I’m giving back to my community by creating a project that is heavily influenced by legendary prison abolitionist Angela Y. Davis’ activism and Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality. It’s inspired by the #SayHerName movement which highlights how Black women are left out of the conversation of mass incarceration and police brutality, despite the disproportionate police violence against WOC.
Angela Davis’ Black Girl Coalition, is an advocacy group based in Central Virginia, where the most frequent school-to-prison pipelines occur in America. Our mission is to work with Richmond Public Schools to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by making alternatives to youth incarceration accessible as possible to Black girls in marginalized communities. Like RISE for Youth, Performing Statistics and Art 180, we’re making a political statement; Prisons Don’t Work.