ISSUE 2 FREEDOM PHILOSOPHIES Flipbook PDF
Freedom Philosophies is a youth-led justice magazine that amplifies the life experiences and humanity of those who are w
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FEBRUARY 2021 | ISSUE 2
PHILOSOPHIES LEANDRA HARRIS
"I BELIEVE THAT UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IS THE CURE"
DIVERSITY OF BLACK PERSPECTIVES
WHAT DOES LOVE IN COMMUNITY LOOK LIKE?
LILLIAN PIPERSBURG PLUS JOIN US WITH
DONNA HYLTON, TROY WILLIAMS, AND MORE! Photo Credit: Robert Leiter
LABELS. STEREOTYPES. DISCRIMINATION. SEXUAL VIOLENCE. POLICE BRUTALITY. OPPRESSION. PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. SEXISM. TRAUMA. EMOTIONAL VIOLENCE. RACISM. PATRIARCHY.
LIVE. GROW. CREATE. UNDERSTAND. TAKE A FALL. INSPIRE. LEARN. CHOOSE. LOVE. DREAM. SUCCEED. REFLECT. BE BRAVE, BEAUTIFUL AND WONDERFUL.
?NAEM HTUOY 4 MODEERF NI "EERF" EHT SEOD TAHW
CONTENTS WHAT’S INSIDE Staff
Resources on the Map
29 Darryl Burnside
Mr. Stephen Jones
Dr. Terrance Wooten
In the Kitchen Dear Freedom Philosopher
Official F4Y Merchandise
Poetry & Art
Blind Taste Test Contest
County Blues Volume One Poetry & Writing from Santa Barbara County Jail
Honoring Healing Justice Santa Barbara
with Chily Barkers
Crane created by Moyo / Photo by Robert Leiter
OUR STAFF EDITOR IN CHIEFS MARIELA GARCIA KATIE STAMM-KIRK YOUTH IN THE FREEDOM 4 YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM AT LOS PRIETOS BOYS CAMP (LPBC) 2020/2021 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DR. BILLI JO STARR
CHIEF OF DESIGN & LAYOUT MARIELA GARCIA
DEPUTY DIRECTOR LAVELL BAYLOR
COPY CHIEF KATIE STAMM-KIRK
PROGRAM DIRECTOR MEGHANN TORRES
ADVISORY BOARD CECE HENDRIKS LIS LEADER TODD RUBENSTEIN NOEL GUGLIEMI GREG BENNER MILES ASHLOCK BURKE YASKIN SOLANO
DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR DYLAN GRIFFITH CHIEF OF STAFF MANNY GARCIA
PUBLISHED BY UNIVERSITY GRAPHIC SYSTEMS AT CAL POLY
CHAPLAIN EDDIE PEREZ BOARD OF DIRECTORS CANDICE PIPERSBURG WILLIE POINDEXTER ANDREW BROWN ROGER PERRY DAMION “DAMIZZA” YOUNG SHANNON MILLER DR. MARIO GALICIA BARBARA SANCHEZ
STAFF TRANSLATORS FLORITA CHARCO DIANNA CARDENAS VALERIE DIMAS JENNIFER ROMERO PRICELLA GARCIA
STAFF WRITERS: SHADY GONZALES, KATIE STAMM-KIRK, MYRA MORAZAN MARIN, ANA ZEPEDA, YOUTH IN THE FREEDOM 4 YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM AT LPBC 2020/2021, DARRYL BURNSIDE, DYLAN GRIFFITH COLUMNISTS YOUTH IN THE FREEDOM 4 YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM AT LPBC 2020/2021 FREEDOM PHILOSOPHERS MOYO, DARRYL BURNSIDE, YOUTH IN THE FREEDOM 4 YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM AT LPBC 2020/2021, MEN IN EAST 1 OF SANTA BARBARA COUNTY JAIL
FREEDOM 4 YOUTH ADVOCATES UCSB MENTORSHIP ORGANIZATION CO-CHAIRS: ANA ZEPEDA & KATIE STAMM-KIRK JONATHAN IBARRA MARIELA GARCIA LENA MALLETT XZAVRIA ALCALA ILSE ROQUES SHADY GONZALES DIANNA CARDENAS SHARON PEREZ PRICELLA GARCIA DILLON RUDDELL SHELBY CATHEY VALERIE DIMAS MYRA MORAZAN MARIN COLE WILLIAMS CECILIA LERDA JULIA KERNAN WOITALLA CRYSTAL CARDENAS LILY SERVIN ESMERALDA WINLAND GRACE WILEY FLORITA CHARCO
C ONTACT US FREEDOM 4 YOUTH CENTER 187 South Patterson, Suite A Santa Barbara, CA 93111 (805) 708-1292 [email protected]
ADVOCATES EMERITUS ZOE ALFONSO NEW ADVOCATES OLIVIA FISHLOW JENNIFER ROMERO GINA BRATTI ANDREA REAL
Youth @ LPBC Mariela Garcia
I am so happy and blessed to see Freedom Philosophies come to life. After months of planning, designing, and unforgettable late night calls I am truly speechless to see this. This issue is very special to me and the Freedom 4 Youth family because it goes to show how strong our entire community has been during such difficult times. I hope the stories and pictures we are sharing with you mean as much as it means to us. Freedom Philosophies is a space where everyone can express their voice and talent. Thank you to the young men, mentors, and families for making this possible. I am forever grateful for being part of this amazing project.
We feel so much Joy because it has taken years and so much hard work for this to actually be here, for Freedom Philosophies magazine to be here, for the Center to be up. We hope that the reader gains something from this magazine. We want them to find information or knowledge that will help them and inspire them. We can all get up and help people and make the world a safer and more kind place, not only for us, but for our children and the future generations.
Thank you to all of the Freedom 4 Youth Board and Staff Members for their heart-centered support of youth and adults involved in the criminal legal system. 3
Katie Stamm-Kirk Being able to be a part of creating this magazine has been such an amazing experience. Hearing the stories of so many incredible community members has been so inspiring and humbling. I feel so much joy to have been a part of this wonderful project and hope that you all enjoy the magazine as much as we loved creating it. Thank you to all of our interviewees, writers, youth, and community members who created this project.
2008 Freedom 4 Youth was co-founded by Billi Jo Starr, Ph.D., and the youth at Los Prietos Boys Camp (LPBC) after creating an officially recognized Toastmasters Charter called Toastmasters Soldiers (TMS) in 2008. TMS was the first chapter of its kind for youth in the juvenile justice system. In 2011, Toastmasters Soldiers evolved into Freedom 4 Youth, a nonprofit organization, where youth participated in a weekly leadership program at LPBC. Youth in the program then went on to create the Freedom 4 Youth Advocates, a University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus based mentorship organization that supports youth involved in the justice system. The Freedom 4 Youth Advocates have a combined total of over 31,758 volunteer hours. There are currently 27 active mentors and a total of 131 alumni mentors. Many alumni have gone on to receive master’s degrees in social work, enter teacher education programs and law schools, or join the workforce as counselors, case managers, and law enforcement officers. Over time, Freedom 4 Youth has developed several individualized and group programs (Blueprints 4 Freedom) in areas focused on Leadership, Education, Careers, and Community Service. Through its programs, mentorship, advocacy, and its energized community network, Freedom 4 Youth strives to uplift and empower youth to build safe and compassionate communities. One of their main goals is to provide folks who are involved and impacted by the justice system with enhanced access to community based resources and opportunities. Nearly all of the organization's staff and leadership team have been personally impacted by the criminal justice system. Their individual experiences have motivated them to empower youth to break the bonds of systemic oppression, while relentlessly advocating for justice system policy reform working towards collective liberation. Freedom 4 Youth believes in the power of centering the stories of those most impacted to build belonging, hope, love, and systemic change. 4
Q & A WITH JORDY
Freedom Philosophies is a youth-led justice magazine that amplifies the life experiences and humanity of those who are within or have moved beyond the criminal justice system (primarily those in youth detention and at Santa Barbara County Jail). It also empowers its readers with access to opportunities and resources throughout California and intends to alter the narrative that much of society has regarding people involved in or impacted by the criminal justice system. Freedom Philosophies is also focused on repairing harm and healing relationships, believing that people should not be defined solely by their behavior(s). Released quarterly, with relentless assistance from student mentors at local colleges and universities, Freedom Philosophies is the creativity, inspiration, and dedication of people that are system-involved packaged into a physical or digital platform. Freedom Philosophers are people who are currently or formerly incarcerated whose expertise cannot be found elsewhere. This magazine would never have come to life if it weren't for the resilience, creativity, and passion of the youth at Los Prietos Boys Camp, a youth detention facility in Santa Barbara, California, our brilliant alumni, the talented adults at Santa Barbara County Jail, and the incredibly dedicated volunteer mentors from University of California, Santa Barbara, some of whom are shown below.
ISSUE 2 So often, Black voices, experiences, and perspectives are lumped together--categorized as one in the same when, in reality, Black people have a complex and nuanced diversity of life. Further, popular media often deploys anti-Black narratives
inherently criminal or inferior. These narratives are violent and false, they deny the humanity of Black people, and are long-lasting practices that reinforce white supremacy. This issue of Freedom Philosophies focuses on centering the diverse experiences of Black community members, while highlighting a wide range of perspectives on love, community, joy, restoration, and hope. This issue features Black community members who have different political stances, perspectives towards religion, come from different socio-economic
orientation. Black folks are college students, community organizers, doctors and educators, artists, restorative justice practitioners,
counselors, entrepreneurs, cannabis connoisseurs, foster parents, currently or formerly incarcerated, justice reform advocates, media extraordinaires, chefs, and SO MUCH MORE. It is vital that Black folks are provided the platform to tell their own stories and experiences with the truth and power that only they can carry.
Board Member Feature
Willie Poindexter The youth at Los Prietos Boys Camp sat down and chatted with retired Juvenile Institution Officer, active Freedom 4 Youth Board Member, and Kung Fu Master with a 38-years and counting martial arts career, Willie Poindexter. Willie worked at Los Prietos Boys Camp for decades, and was someone who many of the youth adored and respected. Willie grew up in a tough, but relentlessly loving and active environment. In a low-income housing community with four boys and three girls constantly around him, there was always someone to talk to, someone to learn from. From an early age, he was a student of elders--a self-proclaimed “sponge” soaking up all the information he could from people with valuable life experiences. He made the choice to learn from them so he wouldn’t make the same mistakes they did. This process of learning from people who cared about him foreshadows his career in Probation, which he wasn’t always set on from the beginning. Originally, Willie wanted to be a school psychologist. He wanted to be a source of support for young people, just as he had sources of support growing up. After taking many tests to find out what his skill set was, he knew his strengths were in counseling. In addition, he had an interest in law enforcement. “And so, putting the two together, probation was my niche. That’s how I discovered that my true love was probation versus police. I chose it because I realized that working with youth was very encouraging, to work with youth is to work with the future.” Willie loved his job as a Probation Officer, primarily working with youth who were incarcerated at Los Prietos Boys Camp, the youth clung to him and saw him as someone they could look up to. “He was always giving us good advice, you know? On stuff like how to be respectful and how to talk to women” said a LPBC graduate. The former camper also mentioned other youth at LPBC that respected Willie as a staff member who treated them like people, like their equals. Willie exclaimed “I really loved working with you guys because there was always hope. I think the thing that kept me going was I saw so much potential in each kid that I worked with. What I tried to do was create an environment where they felt good about themselves so they could invest in who they were and be the best version of themselves.” During his time as a Probation Officer, Willie believed that every youth at LPBC had a gift, a special skill or talent that made them unique. “There were some uhh… knuckleheads, you know… but I loved it. I really loved it.” Willie’s genuine and humane investment in young people made its mark in Santa Barbara. A framed photograph of him still hangs on the wall of the conference room at LPBC, and the former campers that see him or hear his name almost always light up with a smile. Nowadays, Willie is continuing to practice and train others in Karate, writing a book about his father-daughter relationship, planning to travel, and works as a bodyguard and security consultant. He joined the Board for Freedom 4 Youth because he wants to invest in people, particularly young people who he knows are the future. But, most of all, he is “enjoying life, big time.”
YOU GUYS ARE SO WORTH IT. DON’T LISTEN TO THE NEGATIVE VOICES IN YOUR LIFE. YOU ARE WORTH IT JUST WHO YOU ARE.” 7
Healing Justice Santa Barbara (HJSB) is a Black-led and Black centered collective in Santa Barbara County. Formed in response to the destabilizing impacts of racism and anti-blackness, HJSB aspires to build resilient communities for the African diaspora and other marginalized people along the Central Coast. Understanding that collective healing and liberation is essential to creating a more equitable Santa Barbara, Healing Justice Santa Barbara centers, uplifts, and meaningfully creates spaces that empower ALL Black people. Freedom 4 Youth sat down with Healing Justice's Leticia Forney-Resch and Jordan Killebrew to discuss their individual perspectives. We do it for the love of Black folks. We do it for the diaspora of Black folks," said Leticia Forney-Resch when asked about the mission and purpose of Healing Justice Santa Barbara. The collective has been a powerful force advocating for Black safety, love, equity, respect, and joy along the Central Coast, particularly in the Santa Barbara community, since its informal infancy stages back in 2016. They formally burst into the public eye after organizing a community protest of over 3,000 people in the wake of the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, which helped bring white supremacy and anti-Black racism to the forefront of global awareness in May 2020. Forney-Resch and Jordan Killebrew mentioned how vital Simone Ruskamp and Krystle Farmer Sieghart are to Healing Justice, and how the two powerful Black women have devoted so much time, energy, and resources to the local community over the years; paving the way for community-driven systemic changes. When asked about what love in a community looks like, Forney-Resch A BLACK LED AND responded by stating, "the freedom to be yourself, your full self; having BLACK CENTERED people accept you and understand it's ok to be different. To still feel loved and a part of your community even when you have things that are unique to COLLECTIVE IN just you - to feel safe."
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY
WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER, WE NEED EACH OTHER TO SURVIVE She further mentioned that space for growth is important and how vital a sense of belonging is to foster growth. From Forney-Resch and Jordan Killebrew's personal perspectives, and as clearly demonstrated by Healing Justice's actions, the community requires mutual respect and understanding. That cannot exist if Black people and their experiences are silenced, discredited, or manipulated by systems or people in positions of power. As part of his vision for the next five years, Killebrew mentioned cutting the ribbon for a Black / African-American Cultural Resource Center's grand opening. A goal to where Black people with truth and authenticity can tell Black history. A shift is happening. We see an influx of Black and Brown tourism thanks to developments in multicultural senses of belonging and robust police oversight for Santa Barbara's city that community members lead. Additionally, Forney-Resch mentioned changes to the education system, stating "they changed the way math is taught. Why not history?" In more recent news, Healing Justice partnered with the Hosford Counseling & Psychological Services Clinic at UCSB to launch the Healing Center. This specialty clinic offers psychological services to Black folks of any age. All of their services are provided by Black therapists who share the common goal of addressing the negative ramifications of anti-Black racism locally. Through these visions and completed actions, it is clear how important the sense of belonging that both ForneyResch and Killebrew spoke about is to Healing Justice Santa Barbara. One crucial way that sense of belonging was fostered for Killebrew was through mentorship. Advice that he offered his 17-year-old self included to "stop rejecting mentors." Elaborating on the diverse roles that mentors can play in people's lives Forney-Resch said a vital one is affirming youth9
that their feelings and life situation are valid, and it's ok to go through hard times... and being able to recognize that you might have trauma." She went on to note how mentors come from all walks of life. They can simply be a person to talk to, a person you aspire to be similar to, an employment connection, and so much more. For Killebrew, an unexpected mentor supported him shortly after his graduation from UCSB, and the important message that was delivered to him said "Jordan, you know what you want. Why are you holding back?" The authenticity and opportunity to receive transparent communication that "cut through the bullshit" empowered him to capitalize on resources to achieve his goals, and, in doing so, build a strong community along the way. Mentorship has undoubtedly impacted their lives and emanates through their compassionate, human-centered approaches to ensuring Black people have freedoms from the intersecting oppressions they currently face. The impact that Healing Justice Santa Barbara has had on the Central Coast is essential. Their efforts have contributed to safer, more inclusive, and equitable spaces for everyone, not solely Black people, on interpersonal and systemic levels. Killebrew stated, "this has been the culmination of years of working behind the scenes and organizing to come then to fruition in what is Healing Justice… I have pure joy and pride for Healing Justice - join us in our work." To conclude, embodying the true nature of Healing Justice's philosophies, ForneyResch left us with this valuable message: "I hope transformative justice won't just be a word that everybody is using, but an action that we can move towards in every avenue of our community and systems."
Troy Williams Troy Williams is currently a film and content creator specializing in producing projects that combat negative narratives surrounding those who have been impacted by the criminal legal system. He is passionate about converting these experiences into powerful tools for community change and reform. He is the founding chairman and CEO of the San Quentin Prison report, a radio show produced and run by people in San Quentin. Recently, Troy started his own production company and nonprofit named Restorative Media Inc., where he hopes to be able to amplify the stories of those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Troy shared with us some of his thoughts on the role of media in community activism and the importance of representation in media.
F4Y: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came into the work that you do? TW: I just launched my own company, a nonprofit called Restorative Media and one thing that I wrestled with throughout the years is that I fell in love with two different kinds of projects: filmmaking and restorative justice. I think that I found this sweet blend between the two by working to create narratives that I want people to receive about myself and others who have been impacted by the criminal legal system. So I named the company Restorative Media to capture this intersection. A lot of what I do is working with people, mostly young people, to sort of reframe their lives, and from that we produce a story. The stories themselves work toward reframing their narratives. For example, I recently worked with this young man who was released after incarceration and we produced this short film called Fear. We talked before about his fears and what he has gone through after being released. So we created this scene of him walking home and him wrestling with the idea of needing a gun for protection. The magic of the film is what takes place behind the scenes because as we produce, we can relive these moments of fear and allow him to explore these moments within his own self. So that's really what my work is about, restorative storytelling through the medium of film and audio.
F4Y: We read a little bit about your work with the San Quentin Prison Report, could you talk about why you started that media company and what working with them was like? TW: I spent the first 10 years of my incarceration studying film. When organizations like Lock Up, National Geographic, and news agencies came in to do stories inside the prison they would tell all of these demeaning and fear mongering stories about who we were. I thought to myself that if those are the only people speaking about us and the only thing that people read or hear about us is the crime that we committed 20 years prior then society doesn't’ really get to see us as we are today. They will never get to see our growth nor our value. It just didn’t seem right to continue to be judged solely by something that happened 20, 30, sometimes 40 years earlier. At one point, Bruce Sinofsky, may he Rest In Peace, Joe Berlinger, Bob Richman, Pepe Urquijo, Diana J. Brodie, Shane King, Tim Mack from Radical Media and others came to produce the San Quentin Film School. My hat goes off to them because they actually gave me an enhanced set of production tools that altered my life. They came in and took a group of us through an eight week film production training course with professional equipment. When they left, they left us better equipment than what they produced the film with. So, when they left I petitioned Warden Ayers to allow me to continue the film school. This is how the San Quentin Prison Report was born. I was tired of people trying to, or using, fear mongering tactics to describe who we were. We needed to control our own narratives to give some balance so that people could have sufficient information to judge who we were based on current information, not historical static facts.
media based platform and the goal is to fill that platform with stories that represent the narratives that are important for the world to see and hear about those of us who have been most impacted by the system. Whether they're somebody who has been incarcerated or whether they've been impacted by having a family member who is or has been incarcerated. Our goal is to work to bring some balanced reporting to what mainstream media is producing about us. I definitely don't want to throw everybody in a single loop, but I think that, as far as I have seen, the majority of mainstream media has not represented people who've been in my position fairly. I want to bring that data and our personal stories to the center stage and by doing so we will give a restorative approach to media. My goal is to bring all this to a national stage, so that there's some fairness and some balanced reporting from the experience of people who have lived it. F4Y: I saw on your website that at one point you were the director of the San Quentin Restorative Justice Roundtable. Could you talk to us a little bit about what that program is and why you believe that restorative justice is important? TW: The program was started by a person named Leonard and it used to be a group of about 30 people who participated in an interfaith roundtable. I started participating in that and then when Leonard went home, I was elected to be the director. During my tenure there, I was able to grow the program from about 30 people to over 300 people. We expanded because the prison population exploded and people wanted access to programs. Sometimes when people first come in, they come in really rough but deep down inside people really want access to change. I often tell a lot of people in the restorative justice field: the way we talk and utilize nonviolent communication in
F4Y: You’ve talked about your company Restorative Media, can you tell us why you started it and what its mission is? TW: I actually just formed the company a month ago. In February 2021 I’ll be launching the website. It’s going to be a
your groups is not the way it happens when I'm on the block talking to somebody. It can look like a very different conversation yet, it will still hold many of the same elements such as making the person feel heard, valued, and empathized with. By giving someone empathy, they learn to receive it and give it back. When people gave me empathy that cracked my heart open in a different kind of way and then I was able to receive from people differently. I was able to expand who I thought of as my community. Who I thought of as in my community was no longer limited to a few blocks, it’s expanded to humanity. That’s what the roundtable was all about. While I was director, we expanded the program to all these different people who were coming in because there was a need. We often say hurt people hurt people, and healed people help people heal. That’s sort of our model. We had to train other people how to facilitate and then they went out, they trained other people. The only thing we have to do as a society is just give people the opportunity, give them the tools and power to be the directors of their own life and change is a natural product of what happens. F4Y: What role has hope played in the work that you've done and what role do you think that knowledge and the dissemination of knowledge plays in sustaining hope for those that are impacted by incarceration or who are currently incarcerated? TW: Hope is this sort of deep thing--it’s this thing that pulls you along, no matter what. Hope itself does not depend on our knowledge. I always like to speak in terms of balance. So there's a part of hope, that is not dependent on knowledge. I don't necessarily have to have knowledge of anything to have this feeling of hope that something will transform, that there's something better coming. Then there's another side to it where based on the information that I have it can alter the way I perceive myself and the hope I have of moving through something. So, for example, when I first went into prison there wasn't much that I actually knew about my history, other than slavery. I chased hope around, I told myself that I'll be able to change the laws or fight my case in the courts to regain my freedom. I had this hope because if my ancestors could make it through what they went through there's hope that I can endure whatever it is that I'm going through. But the knowledge of my ancestors was limited to 400 years of
Hope is this sort of deep thing--it’s this thing that pulls you along, no matter what
slavery and so the hope that I had was rooted in this deep suffering, this longing for freedom but this deep sort of suffering. Then a Black Man in prison taught me a deeper truth, the greatness of my history beyond slavery. One day I was looking for some books on African history and this older Black Man was like I'm going to bring some stuff to your cell. When he came he had a duffel bag full of photocopies of books, probably up to my knees. I rumbled through them and I grabbed a book and said, “I'm going to read this one.” He said, “Nah, read all of them books and we’ll talk later.” It was like 60 photocopies of different books by African scholars that you've probably never heard of. I started to read these books, and the knowledge that was in those books took my spirit to a whole other level, and it gave me a different kind of hope. It gave me the knowledge that not only can I make it through this deep longing and suffering, but I actually come from greatness and I can build something great. Why? Because I now have the image of my ancestors doing so on multiple levels throughout the history of humanity. The knowledge of that gave me a different kind of hope. It gave me not only the hope that I could endure but the hope that I can surpass.
COMMUNITY FEATURE LOCAL FOSTER PARENT AND RETIRED PROBATION OFFICER
Lillian Pipersburg Lillian Pipersburg is a lifelong resident of Santa Barbara, a retired probation officer, and longtime foster parent. Having fostered well over 200 youth within the community, helping young people is at the forefront of Lillian’s personal and professional life. Lillian spoke with our Freedom 4 Youth Advocates about her community work and family. What does hope, family, and community mean? To Lillian Pipersburg, it means giving back and showing up for those who may not have consistent advocates. For the past 30 years, Lillian Pipersburg and her husband Phillip have supported youth in transition within the Santa Barbara community, fostering over 200 children. Starting at an early age Lillian knew that her calling in life was to help guide young people towards stability and brighter futures. Today, Lillian continues to foster youth while also doing contract work with Santa Barbara Social Services. Lillian began her career as a probation officer, choosing this role because it gave her the opportunity to advocate for children. She explained that during her time as a probation officer she saw many
“African American and Hispanic boys go into a program called California Youth Authorities” for seemingly minor offenses. During this period she and Phillip had four children of their own, including a son who wanted a brother. Incidentally, she received mail one day from her job, indicating that the county was recruiting for foster parents. This was when she and Phillip began fostering. “We thought, wow, we can cover a bunch of ground by becoming foster parents because we can help children sort of deter them from even entering the juvenile justice system and our son gets a brother. It was a win-win for us.” Taking on this new role proved to be a beautiful enhancement of Lillian and Phillips' already incredible journey. “We’ve been fostering now for a couple of decades, and we’ve had over 200 some from all walks of life, all ethnic roots all cultural sense, and it's been really very rewarding learning from them as they learn from us.” 14
For Lillian, working with young people is personal. She grew up in a neighborhood called Hunters Point in San Francisco with her mother and sister. While working on a research project, she stumbled upon the work of Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a doctor and sociologist who developed the ACES scale. ACES stands for Adverse Childhood Experience Score. Dr. Burke Harris did most of her research in the Hunters Point Bayview area and Lillian’s personal experience living in this neighborhood drew her to this study. She explained that this study had a huge impact on her later work with probation and social services, that seeing a study done within a community she had been a part of inspired her to continue her work with young people and look further for ways to help.
During their time in Santa Barbara, Phillip, with the help of Lillian and other family, started a community event called Visions of Hope. Visions of Hope is an annual worship celebration intended to “unify the community in worship and reinstate a vision of hope.” While Phillip was not an ordained minister, he had a vision for unifying the community around the word of God and wanted to provide a space for people to share their hope. Together, he and Lillian hosted this event annually for 10 years, opening their doors to hundreds of Santa Barbara residents and families.
Today, Lillian continues to be a foster parent and does contract work with Santa Barbara social services. She is dedicated to continuing to service our Much of Lillian’s community work was done communities youth and offer them a helping hand. alongside her husband Phillip. Lillian described that Lillian and her family have given back to the for them, community work was a deeply personal community in more ways than one. At the center of calling. their work, is a belief in their community and hope for the future. 15 15
AUTHOR & ACTIVIST
We had the opportunity to speak with author and activist Donna Hylton. Donna has spent the last 15 years advocating for young women and girls who are affected by incarceration. Her autobiography, A Little Piece of Light charts her own experiences with the criminal legal system. This past year, Donna started her own nonprofit to assist young women and girls who are impacted by the criminal legal system named after her book. We sat down with her to learn about her activism and what her work has shown her about hope and community. F4Y: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work? DH: I started an organization named A Little Piece of Light. It's an organization that focuses on women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community who have been impacted by the criminal legal system. We focus on policies that will shape and inform the lived experiences of those individuals and meet their needs. We offer support services for them as well as engaging in policy advocacy. Our cornerstone is harm reduction. I’ve based a lot of the programming on my own experiences and the life stories I’ve heard from many women along the way. At our center we have a computer for women to work on, a garden for relaxation, and we offer support services for those who are returning home. Our goal is to be a safe place for women of all ages where they can come and just relax. We have no expectations of the women who use our space or services, it’s about having a place where people can come to work on a computer, get some help, and we can do some programs. 16
F4Y: What inspired you to work with young women in particular? DH: Part of what inspired me to start telling my story was my experience of feeling isolated in my story. You don't realize that others may have gone through what you’ve been through, you think it's only happening for you. When I went into prison, I met hundreds of women like myself who had very similar stories. I felt like something needed to be done. We need services that support women and are run by women because we understand our experience best and our voices need to be heard. Most reentry services don’t address our real needs and this is why I started a Little Piece of Light. We consider ourselves to be an extra layer of support, both a place for women to come to and a referral service to our community partners.
F4Y: Can you talk with us about the ways that communities could better support young women and young girls? DH: First of all we need to believe children. When a child says they're hurting, or if you see the behavior of a child changing, pay attention. We really need to pay attention to what children are telling us. We also need to bring humanity out when working with each other and bring it back into care and love. Love is the only thing that matters. We need to remember this and we just need to start showing up for young women and girls. It takes a village to raise a child and we need to support each other in guiding our young women and our children. F4Y: One of the other organizations we saw that you were a part of is the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Girls, can you tell us about your work with them? DH: I was a founding member of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Girls. The National Council was a brainchild of a friend of mine, Andrea James. I loved the idea of a council because it's women-led for women’s needs. We come together from all over the world, share, and are there for one another. It’s a great resource also because we share the various organizations we’re a part of that are led by women doing work for women. We're fighting for hope and organizing in our respective communities. Most of the women who are a part of it have been impacted by incarceration and have a personal connection to this work.
F4Y: What does hope mean to you and how has it shaped your own life? DH: What got me through was that I kept holding onto that little piece of light in my heart. I knew that there was something different and that there was more to my life and that someway, somehow, I was going to find it. Not everyone has to have a story like mine; we can plant those seeds of hope in our young people. With the right support, we can watch those seeds grow beautifully. I try to be a beacon of hope for young women because at one point I thought I was never going to come out of prison. I thought I was never going to see the free world again. I feel like you have to embody hope for young people to see it. You have to show them that life moves forward, that this moment is not the end. It's not the end of it. So no matter what or where you are, you do the best in whatever circumstances that you may be in, but it's not the end. I think that hope comes from that belief that there's something else and that even if we are in the worst of situations we have to hold onto that light.
"WHAT GOT ME THROUGH WAS THAT I KEPT HOLDING ON TO THAT LITTLE PIECE OF LIGHT IN MY HEART"
FEATURE ARTIST MOYO
Photo Credit: Morgan Norman
Moyo has spent 20 years in solitary confinement, and witnessed over 200 executions on Texas Death Row. A self-taught artist, Moyo's work has been exhibited at galleries in New York and Helsinki. he currently mentors over 50 young people across the US, including youth from Freedom 4 youth since 2019.
Photo Credit: Morgan Norman
When I came to prison I was quite inarticulate and made an oath to myself that I wouldn’t ever again allow someone else to tell my story. I would be the one from here on out telling it. I began reading what I could get my hands on – including an old dictionary with the cover and many pages torn from it that someone gave me. I began trying out the new words I acquired in my conversations with guys here, much to their annoyance for they couldn’t understand why I would use what they would call a Five Dollar word for a Two Cents conversation. But I knew that what I wanted to do was master the art of communication. Some years later I began to write poetry and articles but began noticing that I thought in images that couldn’t be conveyed in words. Yet I lacked any measure of visual language. I began scratching around trying to find my voice. Some of my early influences and the people who encouraged me was my good friend Ingrid and the books on Franz Marc, Kandinsky, Basquiat and art history books that she would send me, as well as the art sections of newspapers clandestinely passed from inmate to inmate as passing newspapers here is illegal. For a long time, I spent my time dealing with difficult emotions within the space of my art. Most of it was filled with pain, anger and sadness and in no way could I say that the work would serve as balm or inspiration. It was simply my worst in image form. I try to make use of discarded or ignored bits in my art because we all have something worthwhile for another, we just have to find it – and it took me coming to death row to find my worth as a human and as a citizen of the world. I have committed some grave acts in my life and I will never be able to undo them. Yet the very least I can do is to improve myself. It is my hope that someone else will also take control of their narrative and tell themselves a new tale, a grander story of themselves. For all of our benefit."
Moyo has been creating a series of Buddha portraits with accompanying reflections on suffering and happiness, conflict and peace, impermanence and eternity, ignorance and awareness. To see more of his work please visit his Instagram page: @buddhasondeathrow
(Right) Title: ANOTHER LOST CAUSE MONUMENT
(Left) Untitled Piece
Text on art reads: TEAR THEM DOWN Systems are also monuments. They are the invisible yet active application of the ideas the monuments we tear down enshrine. However to say they are invisible isn't quite accurate. The shape of our lives are these monuments. The depths of our suffering, The limits of our possibilities are the edges of these monuments. #DEFUNDTHEDEATHPENALTY 22
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“When I came to prison I was quite inarticulate and made an oath to myself that I wouldn’t ever again allow someone else to tell my story. I would be the one from here on out telling it.” 26
To see more of Moyo's work please visit his Instagram page: @buddhasondeathrow Crane handmade by Moyo, photographed by Robert Leiter Photo Credit: Morgan Norman 27
Buddha Bowls was founded in 2013 by a UCSB alumni with a mission to de-stigmatize cannabis culture by serving the dankest bread bowls on the planet. While California may have legalized cannabis in 2016, the fight to repair the damage caused by decades of racist drug war propaganda is gaining traction-and Buddha Bowls is committed to continue to use its brand and physical space as an agent for change. From actively seeking to hire individuals with criminal records at risk of being ensnared in our punitive justice system, to donating 10% of profits to organizations devoted to cannabis justice, to simply serving dank food in an environment that openly displays cannabis history and imagery-Buddha Bowls is committed to consciousness building and the definitive dismantling of our current immoral system of mass incarceration.
Owner: Daniel Dunietz 901 Embarcadero Del Mar Ste. 103 Goleta, CA 93117 Tel: 847-562-6971 [email protected]
RESOURCES ON THE MAP Here we highlight other community based organizations that Freedom 4 Youth works with or supports. We all share a mission to advocate and support youth and adults impacted by the criminal legal system. This list is not exhaustive and does not reflect all of the resources available. We will continue to feature new organizations and coalitions each issue!
California Coalition for Women Prisoners supports women in and out of prison through visiting programs and newsletter opportunities in order to share stories and feelings to build a movement for freedom. www.womenprisoners.org Address: 4400 Market St., Oakland, CA, 94608 or PO Box 291585, Los Angeles, CA 90029
InsideOUT Writers works to reduce the juvenile recidivism rate by supporting the needs of youth who are currently or formerly incarcerated; using creative writing as a tool for personal development. www.insideoutwriters.org Address: 1212 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90029
The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights organizes Black, Brown, and low-income people to shift resources away from prisons and punishments and towards opportunities to make communities healthy, strong, and safe by advocating for state policy changes and organizing locally. www.ellabakercenter.org Address: 1419 34th Ave, Suite 202, Oakland, CA, 94601
The Central Coast Alliance United for A Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) organizes working-class and immigrant communities in California’s Central Coast in order to create a sustainable economy for everyone. CAUSE focuses on ensuring proper wages, preventing service cuts, advocating for workers and union rights, and expanding healthcare services. www.causenow.org Address: 2021 Sperry Ave. #9, Ventura, CA, 93003
Ethnic Studies Now! is a coalition of individuals who are working to uphold diversity by advocating for AB 331, which would add a course of ethnic studies to the high school graduation requirement beginning the school year of 2023-2024. The chapter in Santa Barbara works to ensure that this diversity in education is upheld in the Santa Barbara School District. www.ethnicstudiesnow.com
Women of Substance & Men of Honor provides support and resources for young individuals impacted by the Foster Care System or incarceration that are seeking to change the course of their lives and have not been given the opportunity to. They do this by providing housing, career resources, basic needs, transportation, and mentoring the youth. www.wosmoh.org Address: PO Box 561213, Los Angeles, CA, 90029
If your community based organization or coalition would like to work with us, please visit our website at www.freedom4youth.org or email us at [email protected] 29
Darryl Burnside is a youth advocate, setting an example for what personal growth and transformation look like, always aiming to inspire the next generation of leaders. He co-created Y.O.U.N.G. (Youth Offenders United N Growth), a program focused on self-knowledge, reconciliation, and building relationships designed by people who were tried as adults when they were under the age of 18. He is currently incarcerated at CSP Lancaster hoping for a chance to return back to society. Below, Darryl tells us some of his story and shares his advice.
I was raised since birth by both my grandmothers, taken away from my mother because I was born with drugs in my system. My mother’s mom moved out of Los Angeles to the valley. My dad's mother stayed in Los Angeles, so I was back and forth between the two. What I liked doing the most as a kid was riding bikes and making things; from building tree houses to just being free. I didn’t get the chance often considering the pills slowed me down, but I liked going camping with my family. Growing up I was very hyper. I often became curious and adventurous. I often felt that I didn’t fit in so I’d create my own adventures and would get into a lot of trouble. Some things just got out of my control, not to mention that I just couldn’t sit still or pay attention. In school, it was very difficult. I went to a different school from my siblings and cousins because I had gotten expelled. I was then sent to another school around the corner. There they seemed to have discovered that I had specific disabilities and I was placed on pills within three weeks. The pills limited my freedom as a child. Soon after, I began to get bullied and rejected because of my mixed race, the other mixed kids associated with whites and I associated with Black people. I was labeled confused. Then I started getting picked on and ridiculed because I stuttered, couldn’t pronounce specific words, and couldn’t read. I was talked about because of my old clothes and shoes. It was a group of brothers that were the front runners in picking on me. The bullying lasted from third through the fifth grade. I think I stopped taking my medication in the fourth grade. I had to learn to cheek the pills because they started making me take the pills in the principal's office. Then one day, instead of Big Mama coming to pick me up she sent one of my uncles. On this particular day, Bret and his brothers were on me, so I hid in the girl’s bathroom. When my uncle found me hiding, he beat me up and told all my cousins that I was hiding and there ain’t no B’s in our family and had me fight three of my cousins all day. That was when my violent nature arrived. My uncles would make me fight everybody, even older teenager gang bangers. 30
"I KNEW I HAD TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, TO PUT IN THE WORK ON MYSELF THAT WAS NECESSARY TO BECOME AN INFLUENTIAL PERSON" I began to like fighting. So I had my Big Mama put me in karate. Once back at school and standing up to these bullies, I actually beat Bret up. Other kids started looking to me to help them and I’d be the one getting in trouble in the end.
pursue my education until my arrest at age 17. I think the juvenile system allowed me to stay aggressive. After losing my fitness hearing and being tried as an adult, I was sent to the LA County Jail. That was where the aggressive nature played a role and basically kept me alive. It got to a point where it couldn’t be turned off. I was out of control. That was my mindset back then and because of the things I witnessed and experienced going through the LA county jail, having to fight on a daily basis and sometimes multiple fights in a day, it was impossible to keep kindness in my heart so I lost that gift. By the time I got to prison, I was still mad at the world, mad at the judge, mad at the district attorney, mad at my mom; it was easy to stay mad, to stay aggressive, and to inflict my pain on others, whether verbal or physical. When I started doing this work, it was so unexpected, and trust me, it wasn’t easy, but I knew I had to do something different, to put in the work on myself that was necessary to become an influential person. The first thing I was able to do was become aware, and while participating in several groups from Alternatives to Violence, Victims Impact, Victim Awareness, Alcoholics Anonymous, Criminal Addictive Thinking, and so many other groups I was able to gain insight about who I was, and why I became the person I was at the time I committed my crime.
I would continue to have problems learning in school up until the sixth grade. After attending home schools and then at the school district for months, I was placed in a special-needs school for at-risk youth. After losing my little brother 14 months earlier, it was hard to do anything. I think I just gave up completely and started into the life of alcoholism, addiction, gangs, and violence. Days before my first day at the new school I was shot and almost gunned down, I had just turned 13. At the school, I’d meet Miss Smith, she was like an angel and someone who I needed in my life at that time. I really tried to open up to her and tell her everything I was feeling and why I was so angry with the world and God. However, I did end up leaving her school after two years. The other schools were abusive and I couldn’t stay, so ultimately by age 15 I gave up on school completely. I think before I came home from Camp in December 2002 was when my grandmother made me promise her that I would pursue my education. She did everything in her power to give me a great education. She tried to put me in the Job Corps, different construction schools, and other programs who put me back in school to
Darryl on the Yard in 2020
The most important thing about this work is the people, the connections, the building community. Especially for me, someone who lost all trust in people. Growing up in my section, we learn to dislike those who are considered to be in our business, which is what families are telling each other. We develop a bias towards people and I was one of them, especially with having social workers snooping around and police mistreatments, but I was wrong because the same people are giving me my life back. I like to say the people, Miss Lake, Kristen Bell (not the movie star but a lawyer), Rebecca Weiker, Sara S, Phil, Marion, and so many others, built or dug up my heart that got buried when we laid my baby brother Lil Ricky to rest. These individuals gave me something special and it gave me Hope, and that same Hope I have for the future. That is what inspired me to be an advocate for youth. I have to say the most influential event was two separate occasions. The first was meeting a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor. At that time, I didn’t have a clue about that. I had heard of Hitler and knew a little bit about it but I didn’t really know nothing about the Holocaust. After hearing William Harvey’s story and what he went through surviving the Holocaust, at the end he blew me away when he said to all of us that he forgave those who murdered his parents and tortured him. At this time, here I was going through the stages of forgiveness and struggling with forgiving my mother but after having a little chat with William I decided to write her a letter. I didn’t send it, but it allowed me to get out some of the things that I wanted to say to her that I thought were mean and I opened the door for me to have a conversation with her about how I felt. That opened The Door to forgiveness. The other event was two other Holocaust survivors. Two ladies, Erica Jacoby the Holocaust survivor and Ursula the lady whose dad was a nazi. Truly, this was a lot to take in. 32
I chose to speak and was quite nervous, but I felt like I couldn’t pass this opportunity up. As I was speaking I just spoke from the heart. Miss Erica ushered me over to her and acted as if she wanted to say something to me, so as I bent down to listen she planted a kiss on my cheek and, wow, it was too much I just started crying. It was as if I was kissed by an angel, and God was letting me know that I’m on the righteous path. I felt so humble and seen.
The more we know about ourselves and how we got to the point where we are in life, we can now decide what we wish to do with this information
During this process of healing I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people. I think having the chance to see the other side and the victim’s point of view, hearing mothers of murdered kids or kids with murdered siblings and parents, allowed me to see the true effect crime has on our community. There are so many others who are affected by crime against another human being. I had been placed in front of a mirror and realized how my crime not only affected my victim but also his family and friends. Here is where I’ve learned to accept responsibility and be accountable for my actions and by becoming aware I have a duty to share and be of service. So I decided to be a light. I used to be angry at God because I was the way I was, or because I have so many problems mentally and wondered how I could serve. My grandmother always told me I’m going to do His work so I always thought like, I don’t know how, or who’ll even listen to me. But I guess God had a plan. The people who most inspired me were Miss Kristen Bell. I met her in the beginning stages of my journey, I like to say after I escaped the danger zone (Pelican Bay State Prison). I wrote a letter seeking help with understanding this new law that passed, and after a while she asked if there were any programs. At this time there was maybe like one, so we decided to start one for Youth offenders. Whoever was sent to prison for committing a crime while under the age of 18 will be in the group, and from that point on she and our community resource manager, Ericka Lake, brought so many different groups that we all needed and put us in the right groups at the right time. Personally, I believed it was God at work. I was placed in Alternatives to Violence and Houses of Healing. Two groups that have served me well and gave me a chance to confront my past. And I was also in this theatre and arts program that helped me open up a lot with sharing and telling my story and not be ashamed. I think this combination of grouping gave me much insight about myself and what I was capable of and who I was to become. The advice I would give is just give yourself the best chance possible to find yourself and read, read, read. It is very powerful and could point you in the right direction as to who you want to be in life. At the moment, I think the most important thing that should go into a program is how to develop insight into oneself. The more we know about ourselves and how we got to the point where we are in life, we can now decide what we wish to do with this information. You have to have good people because these examples are crucial for how our youth are motivated, inspired, encouraged, and how they view love. The main takeaways I want these promising young individuals to get from my curriculum is that we have the power to change our lives for better or for worse, it is up to us how we move forward and I just want them to have all the facts so they can make a conscious decision for their future.
The advice I would give is just give yourself the best chance possible to find yourself and read, read, read.
Choices for Freedom
Nate Williams is the president and founder of Choices for Freedom, a California nonprofit. Since 2013, Nate has hosted support services and mentorship programs for those who are impacted by the criminal legal system. He currently works with a variety of organizations to support those who are returning home. The youth at Los Prietos Boys Camp had the opportunity to speak with Nate about some of his outreach work and current projects.
ate is the founder and president of Choices for Freedom. After his own experience of being 32 years locked up inside, Nate decided that something needed to change. Michelle Alexander, a former director with the ACLU and author of award-winner book The New Jim Crow, heard about Nate’s story and was moved to help him in his case. Nate explained, “I wasn't born a gang member--nobody's born into this. But we had experiences of trauma that was undealt with and that’s what results in pain.” Much of Nate’s work today is centered around helping others who come from similar situations to work through their trauma. After his release, Nate studied at the California Institute of Integral Studies and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in just under a year. He then went on to complete a 15 week business bootcamp at Stanford University where he developed his idea for his nonprofit, Choices for Freedom.
The mission of Choices for Freedom is “to provide support, education, and mentorship to young people and adults to keep all from entering or returning to the criminal justice system and to interrupt the cycle of mass incarceration.” Choices for Freedom envisions a world in which prisons are obsolete and young people can grow up free from trauma.
When talking about his organization, Nate explained “I go inside juvenile halls, I’m a guest speaker in 16 adult prisons and I have a contract with one right now to deliver a program I call “Path 2 Restoration.” I never thought I'd be going back to prison to teach. I know that a lot of people think I'm crazy, like “why do you want to go back inside, you spent all those years in it you could just go on, buy a house somewhere, and live the rest of your life.” But because when I was in there a lot of people helped me change my life, so I know I can make a difference.” Nate is all about giving back and helping others change their lives too. Post-release, Nate has been a motivational speaker and leadership training facilitator appearing at conferences across the country. He is passionate about showing up for young people and helping them achieve success. In talking to the youth at Los Prietos Boys Camp he said “imagine if you change your life and got everything together. You could be working in this place you’re at right now, doing the same job that the counselors doing, but you'll be different and better because your system impacted you will know what the youth need.” His words offer a vision of success for our youth and all young people who are system impacted. Today, Nate is continuing his work with young people through his mentorship programs and Choices for Freedom. He is dedicated to helping other people who are system impacted succeed and thrive.
Photo Credit: Robert Leiter
Youth Spotlight: Freedom 4 Youth Work Experience Student F4Y: How long have you been living in SB? Where did you live before that? TH: I have lived in Santa Barbara for 6 years. I was in three separate foster homes before moving here into another foster home with my Aunt Lillian and Uncle Phil. I used to live in San Jose, with my mom. It was hard to move down to Santa Barbara because I’ve never moved before. It was hard for me to be away from my mom. I didn’t want to be away from her. But now she's moved to Santa Barbara and I have grown to like Santa Barbara. It's fun and I like the beach.
F4Y: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? TH: I go to Santa Barbara City College and I just turned 20 years old. I like going to school. It's fun-not as fun as I thought it was going to be--but it’s still fun. I'm taking work experience, PE, financial planning, and a personal experience class. I also work at Freedom 4 Youth, and my work experience class is helping me a lot with that. I organize the merchandise, clean the F4Y Center, help Billi Jo with whatever she needs, and get to work on special projects like making dream boards and setting plans to achieve my goals. I get to talk about what I want to do with my life and the dreams that I have, because I’m getting ready to move out pretty soon. F4Y: Can you tell us a bit about Visions of Hope? TH: It’s a faith event that a lot of my family has put on for the past 10 years that celebrates Black history, life, and culture. I mainly sit there and listen to other people talking, and we dance. We had worship and we had a message. We are still happy to have Visions of Hope every year even after my Uncle Phil passed away. It has been a positive thing for me and many other people. And there’s a lot of good food, it’s fun. 35
F4Y: What have been some of the events with Freedom 4 Youth that you’ve been involved in that you are most proud of? TH: We went to Sacramento and visited the state capitol and the California Endowment building for Freedom 4 Youth’s Day of Advocacy. It was big and it was amazing. There were a lot of people who went from F4Y. There were college students, adults, and young people as well. We had a good time. It was also my first time going on an airplane so that was exciting. We also went to Freedom 4 Youth’s Halloween Fashion Arts and Music (F.A.M.) Fest at their old Center on State Street. It was a lot of fun, we were dancing and eating some food. We had some halloween candy. We took my little boys there and they were having fun and running all over the place. There was a lot of art on the walls that was made by people who were in jail. And lots of people walked the runway for the fashion show. It was fun, it was a lot of fun. F4Y: What does love and community mean to you and how have you experienced it in your own life? TH: My family loves me. I feel loved in all my family and with Billi Jo, I love her too. I could say that I love Billi Jo like family to me. I definitely think she could be my family because family can also be chosen. Being at the F4Y Center and being with my family makes me feel like I am in the community. I have a big family that cares about me and they make sure that I’m ok and safe. They want to make sure that I don't get sick from COVID. When I got out of my Mom’s house, my Aunt Lillian and my Uncle Phil took me with them. We love holidays and gift giving.
Mr. Stephen jones
Stephen Jones is a counseling staff member at UC Santa Barbara’s Educational Opportunity Program. As
someone who was previously incarcerated for 21 years and has risen above what he refers to as “the criminal INjustice system”, he is passionate about helping those that are affected by it and the work that Freedom 4 Youth does. We interviewed him to find out more about this passion. F4Y: Can you give us an overview of what the Educational Opportunity Program is and what you do there? SJ: EOP has existed for over 50 years at UCSB. It is an educational opportunity program that seeks to aid students that are first generation college students or income eligible. The program was born out of the struggles of civil rights because they heavily intersect with education rights. My personal title is an Academic Achievement Counselor. However, because of my history in social work, I am able to discuss circumstances outside of academics with students. F4Y: What inspired you to pursue this career? SJ: While I was in the San Quentin State Prison in 1996, I spoke to a guard about how I had dropped out of school in the 4th grade. The guard told me that I’d have to live the life I was living forever if I didn’t decide to go back to school to find my niche. I sort of had an epiphany during that conversation as I realized I would never be able to find my niche on the street corners. Being locked up, I was able to reflect almost 24 hours a day about what a student would need to be successful. Because I couldn’t do social work anymore due to my felonies, I thought working with college students would be helpful. F4Y: If you are comfortable, can you share how the criminal legal system has influenced your path and perception of the world? SJ: As a Black man in America, it is the criminal injustice system. I grew up in a time when police murdered Black and Mexican folks with impunity. I was six years old when the police killed my best friend in 1962. So I was aware of systemic racism before being incarcerated, being locked up did not affect my perspective one way or another. F4Y: If you could give one piece of advice for those coming out of the system, what would it be? SJ: I am really big on education. I always tell felons returning to society to just get educated. It allows you to eat, sustain your life, and think for yourself in a way that won’t get you back behind the wall. Education is a great foundation for launching a new life, gaining a broader worldview-especially in regards to what the true world entails. It also helped me understand how to show love to myself. The skills that people learn in the hood or behind the wall are transferable to the world of education. A drug dealer makes a great retail salesman and the path to this type of transition is found in education.
F4Y: What does love in community mean or look like to you? SJ: Love and community are my religion. I believe that although you can begin attaining love in community while incarcerated, these are not skills that can be attained through the penitentiary. Love is an action word that begins with the individual. You have to learn to love yourself in order to gain the spirit of love, otherwise you’ll just be passing through a community. Once you love yourself, you’re promising that you’ll be the best version of yourself despite everything you’ve been through and you can share that spirit with others in the community. Because love is an action verb, I believe in a proactive approach to creating community. I’ve aided in establishing 41 different nonprofit organizations surrounding the criminal injustice system. I’ve seen love in different communities through these organizations. Many of my former students and formerly incarcerated people I know have worked to give back to those going through the system. I hope that in the future this community will grow to serve people before they are placed in the system. F4Y: Is there love established in the EOP community? If so, how is it presented? I may be biased toward EOP. It was the first place I had been to that showed me love by every single staff member. And this was before I had even applied to UCSB as a student myself. When I first went to the UCSB campus, a white student directed me to EOP. As a Black man, I ended up feeling at home because of all of the love and resources they had. Coming from a large, African family we always had a lot of funerals. Many EOP counselors would attend my family's funerals and made it possible for me to take off work to plan them. The counselors at EOP understand the struggles students go through because they have personally gone through them as well. They show love to students through counseling, advocacy, and making sure the students feel welcomed. F4Y: Do you believe that love and acceptance in the higher education community can be improved to encompass more individuals impacted by the criminal legal system? If so, what changes can be made to make this possible? SJ: There are many committed individuals that work within education systems that bring love into them. However, these systems do need to change. The bureaucracy of these institutions need to focus more on student-centered education and change rather than the politics of them. This will be done by getting more representation on the other side of the table. I’ve worked with students who have become legislators and senators trying to make this change. Love is not found in the bureaucracy of higher education--it is brought into it by these individuals.
F4Y: In addition, have you already seen improvements made since you began working in higher education? SJ: Bureaucracies respond very slowly. The issues going on today have been going on for over 25 years. This is because too many scandals occur and time is spent sweeping them under the rug rather than improving the systems. But in the last 25 years, UCSB has become a hispanic-serving institution and now has over 1,200 programs serving studentssuch as EOP. F4Y: Why do you recommend Freedom 4 Youth to students? SJ: Freedom 4 Youth is doing the work that I can’t do. They bring the continuity of life to the youth. They mentor the youth and teach them life skills. They help ensure the youth become better citizens in society and that it is the only way to create a sustainable change in the world. The youth incarcerated now are tomorrow’s future. Freedom 4 Youth works and the action of love is seen in what they do. Billi Jo is a white woman that made a beautiful choice to live. I witnessed and helped her from being a student to developing Freedom 4 Youth and thinking of that always makes me so happy. F4Y will always be at the top of my recommendation list. It is a much needed force and should truly expand to a national level because the impact is very noticeable.
Photo Credit: Robert Leiter
Leandra Harris is a longtime Santa Barbara resident and current student at SBCC. She will be graduating this spring with her associates in psychology. Leandra has worked with a number of nonprofits in Santa Barbara and hopes to continue her education at a four year institution. Leandra sat down with us to tell us about her experiences in Santa Barbara and some of her future goals.
Take a peek into a day in the life, dreams and ambitions of
Leandra moved to Santa Barbara from the Bay Area when she was 15. At first, the move was difficult, stating “I was very culture shocked when I came to Santa Barbara.” She struggled to find her voice in her new environment. Through her experiences in various careers and currently as a student, Leandra has grown more comfortable as an advocate for herself and others.
“we’re all accountable for each other. I believe that unconditional love is the cure and that’s what makes family and community so important.” 38
Initially, Leandra started her career off as a chef working with Jean Paul LuVanvi. Cooking, she said, “gave me a trade,” and for a long time she explained that it allowed her a place of safety. Eventually, Leandra became involved with Freedom 4 Youth. From the beginning, she said she has “always respected Freedom 4 Youth. I feel like Santa Barbara County was the first place I've been where there was no one speaking for these kids.” Leandra has also been involved with other local nonprofits such as AHA! (Attitude, Harmony, Achievement). She explained that her work with both organizations helped her “understand humans no matter what and it gave [her] a lot more compassion for people in the service of serving others.” Leandra explained that life for young people in Santa Barbara is “very different from a lot of other communities,” particularly for young people that are Black. When she first moved, she explained that she felt “there was no Black community” and that Santa Barbara High School was an unwelcoming environment. From the very beginning, she was placed into a bridging class that was left out of school-wide decisions such as ASB. She explained that a lot of the programs oriented towards helping young people were not run by people who had come from similar life experiences. Leandra believes that having people with life experiences relevant to the issues they tackle in positions of power makes them more compassionate and able to holistically address these issues.
These experiences have led Leandra to consider a career in policy. She explained that she feels the “root of certain systemic issues are in the laws and who has access to money.” After studying psychology, she made the decision that she sees the greatest change needed at the big picture level and hopes to be a part of that. Much of her interest in higher level policy reform is deeply personal and comes from her own experiences as a former foster youth. She explained that both in her personal life and in experiences she has seen from others, the current foster care system is in need of serious reform. “A lot of kids fall through the cracks because of how our system is set up and there’s a lot of families who shouldn’t have even been involved with CPS.” Leandra ultimately envisions a community of present and former foster youth based on mindfulness and unconditional love; although she knows that there is a difficult road to get there from a policy standpoint. She is hopeful that by working on system wide issues there can be changes that lead to the existence of several of these communities. For Leandra, community is about accountability and responsibility. At bottom, she explained that communities consist of multiple people who treat one another with respect, empathy, compassion, and most importantly love. Her final message to us was “we’re all accountable for each other. I believe that unconditional love is the cure and that’s what makes family and community so important.”
Photo Credit: Robert Leiter
DR. TERRANCE WOOTEN
Dr. Terrance Wooten is currently an Assistant Professor in the Black Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also sits as the first Scholar in Residence for the Multi Cultural Center at UCSB, helping to develop "programs that emphasize social justice while also serving in a consultative role to the ViceChancellor of Student Affairs on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) matters” (UCSB MCC Website). The youth at Los Prietos Boys Camp were happy to meet with Dr. Wooten to hear his story and perspectives, and gain access to him as a personal and professional resource.
Professor, Department of Black Studies Dr. Wooten grew up in urban Ohio, was labeled “at-risk” at an early age, went through the foster system, and up until the sixth grade experienced extreme poverty. He came into contact with anti-Blackness in the education system by being placed in a special learning class for no reason other than he was not fond of speaking in front of others--one of the most common human feelings. After moving to a small town in West Virginia after sixth grade, the explicit and violent expressions of anti-Black racism flooded in, which contributed to him wanting to escape from the area as quickly and safely as possible. Wooten says himself, “it taught me that I needed to learn how to use my voice, and to stick up for myself because no one was going to do it.” In early adulthood, Dr. Wooten began volunteering at after school programs--one for “at-risk” youth and the other for students at an Afrocentric school. Interestingly enough, these experiences were not the catalyst for his teaching aspirations.
He was on the path to law school when a professor in the Black Studies Department at Ohio State University, his alma mater, convinced him to apply to a Master’s program in Black Studies. It was during his time as a teaching assistant in graduate school that he realized teaching adults was not only something he excelled at, but something he genuinely enjoyed and felt there was a place for him to make a difference. Growing up, he did not have Black teachers until he began his post-secondary education. He realized the value of this through his personal experiences. As a teacher, he does not believe that you have to get a college education in order to be considered educated. Contrary to many professors, he views teaching as “a way to connect to people... a way to get to know students to help them along their journey.” He learns a lot from his students, stating “it is not just about what I can offer them, it's also about what they offer me. And they help me stay grounded.” Wooten constantly feels a reciprocal value to teaching, as many of his students feel safe in the environments he helps create both in and out of his classroom. Ultimately, his teaching style is compassionate and humancentered. Dr. Wooten embodies the saying "treat people how you want to be treated" in his teaching and his daily life.
Some advice he was able to give to the boys at LPBC on achieving goals touched on his own personal experience as he stated, "I want to honor and respect the fact that you have an experience right now that you're living through... But again, this does not define you. So don't let this be an anchoring moment... You can say to yourself, these are these goals that I want to accomplish, and ask how do I get there, and know you can start working on those goals from anywhere at any time. And it also says like I know those are my goals, and I'm not going to let other things distract me from my goals. So it's really helpful to say, this is what I want to do, this is what I want to be, because then you can start to talk to people about how to get there." Concluding by continuing on the topic of building relationships and talking to people, Dr. Wooten insightfully noted, "pay attention to how you handle challenges, because the same frustration that you have with a math problem and the solution to how you handle that frustration, that's probably how you handle frustration in other contexts. Asking for help is a great thing. If you address a difficult person like you would a math problem that is frustrating... I know it seems ridiculous but these little small practices build up, and you can scale that up to other parts of your life... The way that you think informs what you say, and informs how you move in the world."
“Not to romanticize struggle, but I was not supposed to be a kid who went to college. I was not supposed to be a kid who got a master's degree and I'm definitely not supposed to be a kid who got a Ph.D. I was a kid, who in second grade, they thought I couldn't read. They were just figuring out a way to push me through the system so I didn't have to be their problem. And so, if that had stayed the same I don't know what kind of person or where I would be right now.”
COURTNEY FRAZER WORKS IN SUPPORT OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY. SHE HAS HELPED SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION AND WELLNESS TO SUPPORT THESE INDIVIDUALS IN SANTA BARBARA. WE SPOKE WITH HER TO GAIN INSIGHT INTO HER WORK, HER EXPERIENCE, AND WHAT SHE SUGGESTS THE COMMUNITY SHOULD DO TO SUPPORT THE BIPOC COMMUNITY. F4Y: What’s your story? How did you get involved with the Cannabis Industry? CF: I’ve been involved in the Cannabis Industry for years basically just helping others understand the plant, how to dose with different cannabinoids, and feel safe in their decisions to use weed as medicine. Cannabis has helped me heal from past injuries, surgeries, depression, anxiety and helps me balance life without the need for pharmaceuticals, which is extremely important to me and the health of my body. Before entering the cannabis industry I was doing a lot of work with youth in understanding film and media literacy and loved working with them and their families, but was experiencing extreme burnout and felt I wanted to acknowledge my passions for health and wellness and make a change. I took a chance and quit my job to enter into cannabis full time and learn the business from bottom to top, in what I like to call, “Canna College,” working as a budtender at a local dispensary. It was a really eye opening and humbling experience after running organizations and building marketing campaigns to sit back and have to learn/earn this new, entry-level position and understand cannabis from seed to sale, but I knew this was a product I enjoyed so learning all the ins and outs was step one to figuring out where I fit best. My passion for the people slowly took over and I realized that while Cannabis was becoming essential business, people are still in jail and everyone didn’t have an opportunity at even these entry level jobs, let alone management or ownership and that's kind of how we ended up here. I now get to grow and cook food with families in the community and also work with a women-owned and operated cannabis company helping to share products and recipes. Being able to work full time in health and wellness has been a dream and I have cannabis to thank for helping me accomplish that. F4Y: Do you see a future with positive changes in educating the youth around diversity and representation of Black and Brown people? CF: Of course I do, because we’re going to make sure of it! Lol - I dont think it's going to necessarily be “book work” type education. I think it will be awareness of self that will propel us into a future of change. I see the empowerment that us as Black and Brown people exert - that energy, nothing can take that. I think it's dope that people, especially the youth, aren't asking others to give them strength, but realizing they deserve to be here too and feel better and more confident to grow in whatever space they’re choosing. It will only benefit us to see ourselves and to welcome each other so that as we grow we help to support those around us. We got us so it has to work, right? It can be frustrating, and healing usually hurts, but knowledge is collateral and as more people are able to understand themselves, their thinking, eating habits, their bodies, community needs, I think naturally positivity will ensue.
F4Y: What role does the Cannabis Industry have in providing support to those in the criminal legal system, and what can the community do to support? CF: Because a lot of weed is cultivated here and retailers are still in beginning years in SB County I think the Santa Barbara cannabis community can be leaders not only in California, but for our nation in how they can contribute to these marginalized communities. By working in these communities and seeing what is actually needed. I'm disappointed to see many local cannabis companies completely disconnected from the people who would literally spend their last dollars to have their medicine - weed. The community can start by understanding a lot of weed is grown right here in Santa Barbara County and retail shops will be popping up all over the city in the next year. Educating themselves on these two opportunities is pertinent to understanding the future of Cannabis in California. Learning about defunding policing programs and understanding the history of the plant and its healing capabilities will help our communities understand why some of us have been imprisoned for it and why the white man reap the benefits and are also still the only ones making the decisions in regard to a plant that many city officials have no clue about or only associate negatively.
F4Y: What are some ways that the community can support Black and Brown people? CF: Community care is extremely important because of the amount of work that we have to do to look out for each other. As BIPOC are able to embrace more self care routines, I think we are able to pour back into each other. There are a lot of people in the community who are doing a great job for our people in regard to a healing future (s/o @HealingJusticeSB). So I think that what other people can do is start to educate themselves. We have to educate ourselves on systems which haven’t always benefited us, so learning to structure ourselves to create new lanes and reap the most return is key. We have been able to see and say, with confidence, these are the things I need and these are the steps we can take to accomplish them instead of constantly having to figure out where we fit in a community that doesn’t support our future and has tried to erase our past. You have nothing without trust. F4Y: Do you believe mass media can be used in building smaller community movements? CF: Yes!!! The media plays a huge role in building small community movements. With all the craziness being reported at a national and global level it is up to us to see the picture from our perspective. Social media has allowed us to band together at a local level, consider the pages you follow to be like the channels you store in the cable box. What are you watching? I definitely think showing positive images of Black and Brown people being involved in the community and growing and selling weed can make an impact. I’ve been the crazy friend screaming and creating summer camps about media literacy so I’m happy that, especially after the last presidency, in 2021 we’re a lot more aware of what and where media exist and the impact it actually has.
As more retailers open I think the 805 community will see through the gatekeeping honestly - and they can’t continue to grow without the support of more people. I’m extremely busy and can’t accomplish all the things by myself right now, but all I think about is making tangible changes such as educating and encouraging people to join this industry and opening lanes for diversity and inclusion. These are corporations and training these companies to receive people they’ve “consciously or subconsciously” kept out isn’t easy, but why invite people into an unwelcoming space? When it comes to the justice system, decriminalization is top priority. For those imprisoned by cannabis charges, legalization is happening on the outside. They are being forgotten over amounts of cannabis that we sell, even deliver, legally, daily- as essential business. As people that are on the outside, we have to continue to be a voice. It’s always more than just weed or else they wouldn’t have taken these lengths to keep us out of it. Who owns the land? Who are the top investors? Are there any BIPOC products being sold in the stores? “The weed be letting you know” lol
F4Y: Do you think that the community in Santa Barbara has made progress towards seeing this as a wellness component while you’ve been working in the cannabis industry? CF: Yes, for sure. I love working with people and helping them understand their endocannabinoid systems and how cannabis supports our wellness and not just be stigmatized as a stoner, but instead as a professional who has helped them live better for the long term. Cannabis has been used for centuries by Indigenous communities and was turned into something that ripped families and lives apart, all while communities like Santa Barbara grow, sell and consume weed with little to no fear. I think the 805 cannabis community has the means to be a leader and can see that wellness isn’t just taking big deep breaths and sitting crossed legged, but it’s feeding, clothing, housing, decriminalizing, educating, employing. Go talk to someone who doesn't look like you and be well.
F4Y: Can you tell us about your connection with Juneteenth SB and how it was like? CF: As Black people, we like to come together for many reasons, but Juneteenth is a special celebration of our history and futures. It's an acknowledgement of our ancestors and all of the blood shed to help us into our futures. My involvement with Juneteenth SB was helping to edit video footage that was a part of last year’s virtual event. Helping my friends to capture the beauty of their ideas and the joy it brought to other Black people to be in a space for us. It’s great having other cultures want to join in and/or donate money, but understand why you’re really here now and where were you before? Seeing smiling, Black faces is a passion of mine I don’t take lightly.
Success Stories Family left to right: Richie Reseda, Hugo Gonzales, Mannie Thomas III, Chantal Coudoux, and Graham Finochio
Success Stories is an organization that runs a 12 week program for men who have been system impacted that centers around patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and the harm that they cause. The program provides its participants with a new way to understand their personal goals and harm. Started by Richie Reseda and Charles Berry in 2014, Success Stories has now hosted programs across the country and has had thousands of participants. They are currently contracted for programs in 10 different detention facilities and are actively working with four other outside organizations to expand their program. Success Stories coaches and staff Mannie Thomas III, Graham Finochio, and Chantal Coudoux came to Los Prietos Boys Camp to share about the program with the youth.
Coaches Mannie and Graham
n preparation for the interview, several youth at LPBC had taken some time to watch the CNN documentary “Feminist of Cell Block Y,” which is a detailed feature on the Success Stories Program, and read excerpts from feminist author, bell hooks. When the youth sat down with the coaches from Success Stories they first wanted to know why they had developed an interest in feminism. Graham, a program coach and coach coordinator, explained that when he joined Success Stories he wasn’t immediately interested in feminism, “when I was in prison, I was fully, like pushing back against all the concepts that they were talking about. I was pushing back against patriarchy. The idea that stuck with me was toxic masculinity.” 44
After the coaches outlined the key parts of toxic masculinity as masculinity that values men’s objectification or dominance over women, prioritization of money over healthy relationships, and physical ability or willingness to be violent, the youth asked for advice on how to respond to peers who engage with toxic masculinity. Mannie, a program coach and growth coordinator, explained that he “uses it as a teachable moment. He emphasized that challenging this mindset is “not about condemning or judgment. It’s about asking questions like: where did that belief come from?” In many ways, the Success Stories Program encourages participants to get to the root of their belief systems--to ask “why” someone believes the things they do. Mannie further clarified that, often, when people exhibit toxic masculinity they do so as a result of needing to feel valued, “I remind them that they all have value in being the unique person that they are and that they don’t need all of the other environmental junk.” Both Mannie and Graham engaged in a short role play demonstrating effective ways to engage with and respond to toxic masculine behavior from peers. Mannie shared, “in Success Stories we believe that the community success is our success” when asked about the role that community and love plays in their mission. Because so much of their program is about understanding community and individual harm through the lens of patriarchy, Success Stories believes that harm cannot be solved without love; that the isolation of an individual from the community after a harm does not lead to healing. Graham expanded on this point by discussing how his vision of community changed after going through the program, “Now I see the interwoven nature of the community around me. I'm thinking of the unhoused person that's sitting in front of the 7/11, and people are just walking past him because that's what they were trained to do and he's not their problem... when that's someone who needs support and help and love.” Success Stories promotes the view that community is crucial, and as Mannie stated, “We have to envision a world where punishment is no longer the dominant culture and we can give people what they need while they're still a part of our communities."
I remind (youth) that they all have value in being the unique person that they are
Success Stories is continuing to facilitate their program with youth and adults across the country, both in and out of jails and prisons. Their vision of helping to deconstruct patriarchy and the harm that it causes continues to be their driving mission. Their final advice to the youth at LPBC was “find your connection and keep questioning. If the only thing that you take out of this group is to ask yourself why you do things and route that back to some of the language that you discussed here, then that's a starting point.”
EACH ISSUE WE WILL BE HONORING OUR
FREEDOM ANGELS by Richard Reyes
HONORING THOSE THAT ARE NOW WITH US IN SPIRIT
EACH ISSUE WE WILL BE HONORING OUR
FREEDOM ANGELS by Richard Reyes
HONORING THOSE THAT ARE NOW WITH US IN SPIRIT
IN THE KITCHEN WITH ...
CHILY BARKERS Inside this issue: Q&A, as well as a quick and easy recipe!
Chily Barkers La’Rell is an entrepreneur who designed and runs his own small business at the young age of 13. A passionate chef and talented young businessman, La’Rell shared with us some of his inspiration, challenges, and where he sees his business headed.
F4Y: Can you tell us a little bit about your business? CB: Chily Barkers wasn't always supposed to be a business. At first it's supposed to be an afternoon snack, but my mom was an entrepreneur herself and she said this is a new idea and nobody's ever come up with this. She suggested we try it out and I agreed. At first the Barker name came for the hot dog. Originally we wanted do like a chili hot dog, but the batter wasn't working so we decided to put it in a cup form and that's when we got the chili cupcake but we kept to the Barker name. From there we just started doing more chili based stuff.
F4Y: What advice would you give to another young person who has a similar kind of idea or dream? CB: Definitely don't give up on your dream if you like what you do. It doesn't matter what it is, you have to do what you love. There's something out there for everyone and you have to go chase that. Don't let anyone tell you your dreams are too small. Go big or go home that's what I say. F4Y: What advice was the most helpful to you when you started to create Chily Barkers? CB: The best advice I was given was to pursue a business idea that I am in love with. Running a business is a lot of work so you have to really love it. My mom asks me every month or so "do you still want to do this?" and we have a little agreement. I've always said and she's always told me, make sure it's really something you love, because if you don't love it, you're not going to be able to put in the work to make it successful. So the best advice I got was to make sure your business is something you love and can put the world into.
F4Y: What inspired you at such a young age to become an entrepreneur? CB: I'm not really into relaxing stuff. I'm someone who more likes to get things done. Because of that I decided I wanted to go out and connect with people and build on something. I always knew I would be famous but I thought it would be for one of my other talents like sports or dancing but then this came along and I just started just to go with it. It makes me happy to see all the love my family and friends were putting in for me to make it so far so I was like you know what, I'm just gonna go all in on this. 48
F4Y: Where do you see yourself in your business in five years? CB: In five years I see myself having both a trailer and a stationary location out here in Vegas. I want to have a permanent shop so people can come out to town, you know, because the trailer is gonna be non stationary. I want the trailer to go to state to state. But the shop is for people if they come into town they can stop in for something to eat. Eventually I would love to have locations in other states as well.
F4Y: How were able to overcome any difficulties that you had in keeping your business going and starting? CB: Definitely my mom. She was a big big big influence and help for me because like I said earlier, she was an entrepreneur. She knew the ins and outs of what I had to do. Although we didn't always agree about everything on the menu, half the stuff she suggested is now a bestseller so she was definitely a huge help all around.
F4Y: What inspired you to get into cooking? CB: A lot of my inspiration comes from both my grandmother's cooking. I love their homemade meals and my grandmother on my mom's side actually taught me how to make the chili and I kind of went with it. My grandma on my dad's side makes this tamale pie and so I took inspiration from both to make my cupcake form. So both of them have had a huge influence on my cooking and recipes.
F4Y: Is there anything else that you wanted to add or anything that you wanted to share? CB: Stay focused. I know there's definitely some hard things going on with businesses right now and COVID but if you have a dream, keep on pushing. The thing about running a small business is that you have to ride out the hard times just like the good. So just keep learning and keep going, no matter how many obstacles get in the way you can push through and keep going. No dream is too big or too small, you're going to learnn and get bigger and bigger it's never too much of a good thing.
HOT CHEETO RICE KRISPY ingredients
Rice Krispy Treat Hot Cheetos (1 bag, crushed) DIRECTIONS
You will want to take the Hot Cheeto dust and lay it out on a flat surface. Roll the Rice Krispy Treat in the dust You are done!!! IT’s a great combination of sweet and spicy!! 49
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The questions come from you and the advice is given by Freedom Philosophers who are currently incarcerated
Do you have a question for The Freedom Philosophers? If so, please write to: FREEDOM PHILOSOPHERS C/O FREEDOM 4 YOUTH P.O. BOX 2096 SANTA BARBARA, CA 93120 EMAIL: [email protected] 50
Dear Freedom Philosopher, My child is skipping class, what can I do to motivate them to go to school?
Dear Anonymous, If your child is struggling to attend sometimes its helpful to offer them a reward or encouragement for going like eating out after a day of classes, go to the park and play, and make small tangible goals. Overall, I think its helpful to just talk with your children about why school matters in the future. My parents don't have an education past 6th grade, so I want to be the first one in my family to reach that accomplishment. For me, school is a way to do something different with my life. Sometimes it feels hard right now, but I know that in the end it'll make things easier. Also, there's a social aspect of school. Encourage your child to get involved. Those pro-social engagements are important. - Freedom Philosophers at Los Prietos Boys Camp
Dear Freedom Philosopher, HOW CAN THE COMMUNITY SHOW MORE LOVE TO YOU? (Continued on next page)
Dear Anonymous, I think it’s important to understand that there's a lot of ways the community could step up to offer us better support. Some of it is simple like doing a better job providing basic needs like food, housing and clothing. I need a bed. Basic support can go a long way in making us feel safe and connected to the community. We also need more support in school. While academics are important, so are our social and emotional needs. Having schools that focus on the importance of mental health resources and support when we are struggling, and social opportunities through things like athletics. Even shifting the curriculum in school to include more life skills like how to buy a car, taking out a home loan, creating a budget, etc. Schools should help us find jobs and the community should offer more opportunities for us to find employment.
cont. on next page -> 52
Dear Freedom Philosopher, HOW CAN THE COMMUNITY SHOW MORE LOVE TO YOU?
(CONTINUED... ) Generally the community can support us better by being responsive to our needs and that starts by including us in the conversation. A lot of the time decisions are made about what we need without asking us and so it misses the mark. Having compassion for us is equally important. Talking to us about what we’re going through can help you not only find out more of what we need but it makes us feel heard and supported. When community members don’t talk to us they don’t know why we behave the way we do, they just see us as trouble makers. They don’t know that some of us grew up hungry or without a lot of love. If they had asked they would know that there was something behind it. Having compassion and listening to what we need and are feeling will go a long way in supporting us. - Freedom Philosophers at Los Prietos Boys Camp
LOCAL ADVOCACY Freedom 4 Youth collaborates with many local organizations to generate social change. We encourage you to support, join, or collaborate with one or more of the organizations listed below. They are all actively involved in advocating for systemic changes in the criminal legal system and its related issues.
Healing Justice Santa Barbara aspires to uplift all Black/African-Americans to affirm that they are deserving of safety, love, equity, respect, and joy. HJSB aspires to build resilient communities for the African diaspora and other marginalized people along the Central Coast. www.hjsb.org
The Ethnic Studies Now! Santa Barbara Coalition (ESN!SB) has been and continues to be a grassroots movement that believes that the youth and families of Santa Barbara deserve an inclusive and rigorous education that empowers and uplifts students of all genders, races, classes and abilities. www.ethnicstudiesnow.com
An activist-led grassroots community space located on the lower west side of Santa Barbara that centers people working towards the liberation and uplifting of people of color including but not limited to Womxn, Youth, Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Economically Underserved, and LGBTQIA+ communities. https://sites.google.com/view/elcentrosb/home
CAUSE is a base-building organization committed to social, economic, and environmental justice for working-class and immigrant communities in California’s Central Coast. We build grassroots power through community organizing, leadership development, coalition building, civic engagement, policy research, and advocacy. www.causenow.org
Freedom 4 Youth would like to thank the donors that help make this magazine possible! It takes a multitude of organizations, community members, and foundations. Thank you for supporting our work!
GO Campaign Peter & Laura Smith Ms. Christine M. Raddick & Mr. Craig T. Lazarus L.C.O.S. Family Fund 2G Charitable Foundation
OFFICIAL F4Y LOVE & HOPE
MERCHANDISE “Hope is something that should never go away. Art gives me Hope because I let out my emotions in a good way through it. Art gives me Hope that I’ll never let go” ~ Joe ”The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out Love and art does that for me because I put love and effort into the merchandise” ~ Joe
TO ORDER: CONTACT HOPE/LOVE (805) 708-1292 [email protected] 187 South Patterson, Suite A Santa Barbara, CA 93111 www.freedom4youth.org/store
Photo Credits: Robert Leiter
Designer Joe McGuire Joe was born an artist. Since 2015 Joe has been creating beautiful pieces for Freedom 4 Youth. Joe has now designed two lines of his own merch: Hope and Love. Support Joe and Freedom 4 Youth through your purchase at our website listed above.
YOUTH ART & POETRY
WRITTEN BY ANDREAS C It's always men locked down in the pen Who expect their lady to be happy, but are deeply sad within. Have you ever felt toxic? Started calling your lady a bitch and just lost it? Well, you're gonna need to treat her better, cuz who else is gonna hold it down through the weather? Most cases, that woman gave birth to your kid When you probably weren't even interested. Us men take so much for granted, What would we do if women lived on a different planet? We need so much more than just a change of heart, It's time for us to man up and play our part. So I not only ask you, but the whole world for respect, Because we need to treat our women like queens, not pets.
CREATED BY YOUTH AT LOS PRIETOS BOYS CAMP
ART & POETRY
DONALD “C-NOTE” HOOKER
INCARCERATION NATION My country is still not free This sordid land of hypocrisy Of thee I sing Land where my fathers died Land where the slaves did cry on every mountainside Prisons reign supreme
Poem by: C-Note Painting by: C-Note Incarceration Nation is an original work of ink, graphite, and wax on paper. Done by Donald “C-Note” Hooker in 2017. The painting was inspired by the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in August of 2017, and is the sequel to his first political work Black August-Los Angeles. The red dots represent the location of the state sanctioned deaths of: Travon Martin in Florida; Michael Brown in Missouri; Sandra Bland in Texas; Philando Castile in Minnesota; Freddie Gray in Maryland; Ezell Ford, Wakiesha Wilson, Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) & Oscars Grant in California; and Charleen Lyles in Washington State. The poem written later in the year was inspired by the NFL players “Knee Protest.” ” I was looking at other iconic American verbal expressions of patriotism,” says C-Note. “And My Country, Tis of Thee, also known as ‘America,’ is probably third on that list. The creative juices to create the poem had nothing to do with the painting; however, together they make an excellent onetwo punch, as a political work of art.” The painting Incarceration Nation was given to the California Prison Focus as a donation. However, you can still buy prints of this piece, and other related products, at Fine Art America [Editor’s Note ]: This Paintoem, like all Paintoems, are given to the public, to have free use rights, so long as acknowledgement is given to the artist(s). 57
BLIND TASTE TEST CONTEST The youth at Los Prietos Boys Camp did a blind taste test contest between Super Cucas and El Sitio, two of the most popular Mexican Restaurants in Santa Barbara. They ate a carne asada burrito and al pastor tacos from both places and judged the food based on flavor, balance of ingredients, overall experience, etc...
vs *W IN El NER!! *
my taste buds were amazed
75% of votes
the burrito was gas, it was fire
the tacos we had to make were better than the ones that came ready the burrito melted in my mouth and the winner is..... 58
WE ARE HONORED TO SHARE EXCERPTS FROM County Blues AT Santa Barbara County Jail
HONORING HEALING JUSTICE SANTA BARBARA MAKING BLACK HISTORY IN SANTA BARBARA On Tuesday, February 2nd, thanks to the leadership of Black-led collective Healing Justice Santa Barbara, the City Council of Santa Barbara appointed 13 individuals and 2 alternates to the Community Formation Commission, which will provide suggestions to the city on what a civilian oversight body for the police department should consist of, the powers it should wield, and recommendations on general issues related to police procedures. The Commission consists of more women than men, more Black people than white, several BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) women, and representation from queer and disability community members. Freedom 4 Youth would like to honor and send gratitude to Healing Justice Santa Barbara for leading the city to this truly historic moment that will help preserve and affirm the livelihood, safety, and well-being of so many Black and Brown community members. Freedom 4 Youth is proud to announce that two of our family members have been appointed to the Community Formation Commission. Check them out below:
Ana Zepeda has been part of the Freedom 4 Youth family since 2019. She is the Co-Chair of the F4Y Advocates at UCSB. She was featured in the inaugural issue of Freedom Philosophies on page 34.
Leandra Harris has been part of the Freedom 4 Youth family since 2010. Flip back to page 38 to check out her feature story in this issue of Freedom Philosophies (Hint: she's on the cover.)
MENTORS IN THE COMMUNITY
FREEDOM PHILOSOPHIES | 2ND ISSUE | FEBRUARY 2021 NEXT ISSUE | JUNE 2021
CONTACT US FREEDOM 4 YOUTH CENTER 187 South Patterson, Suite A Santa Barbara, CA, 93111 (805) 708-1292 [email protected]
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