Raised in Sacramento, California, during the 60s, when grassroots movements were standard in communities of color, I became aware of my community’s needs as a youth. As a Black Muslim woman, I share my story to break silence and isolation and work to build connections. In 1996, I moved to Los Angeles, and within a few weeks, my life was turned upside down. My only child was wrongly convicted of murder and given three life sentences without the possibility of parole. We immediately filed for an appeal and began the fight for his freedom. After 19 years, he was finally exonerated.
In 2016, after my son’s release, I was invited to attend the first Essie Justice Summit and Retreat in Northern California for Women Impacted by Mass Incarceration. That weekend I learned frameworks to understand the trauma I faced, as well as understand how so many women in my community experienced trauma. I began my own personal journey of healing to advocacy.
In 2018, I was invited to apply to a curriculum development fellowship program organized by the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), a human rights education organization. The program brought together educators, anti-racism trainers, and community leaders to provide hands-on input on their pilot program. Soon after, I became an active member of MuslimARC. As an American Muslim Anti-Racism Leadership (AMAL) fellow, I am part of the MuslimARC’s three-person team accepted into the Next Generation of Leaders of Color Inland Region 2019-2020 Cohort, which is organized by Compass Point Non-Profit services. Our team is one of ten organizations participating in the program aimed at systems change in southern California organizations. In 2019, I was accepted into the Community Coalition’s Organizing fellowship, which built upon my decades of personal advocacy to empower and advance the lives of black and brown people in my community. In late 2019, I was hired Community Organizer for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). As Lead Census Organizer, we focused our outreach with community members and developed strategic partnerships with diverse community-based organizations throughout Los Angeles County.
Fun fact: I am a ceramic/mosaic/soap artivist who gives back by teaching other women who have been impacted/traumatized by incarceration about self-care through art therapy.