Zakiyah's BOLD journey for African-centered self-empowerment
Organized by: Zakiyah Ansari
$32.00 away from the halfway mark
March 16, 2016
My journey as an advocate for educational justice began 16 years ago and it has been a powerful Iife changing experience for myself, my husband and no doubt for my 8 children. Everyday I'm amazed how my then 33 year old self - insecure, low self-esteem, lacking confidence, unorganized, running away at the first sight of conflict - got here. When my rose colored glasses were removed I realized that my children having access to art, music, science labs, advanced courses in middle school was not the norm for far too many Black, Brown and poor children in Brooklyn. While I didn’t know what organizing was I knew in my heart and head that this was wrong. It made me ask, “What can I do?” It was as founding parent leader with the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) that I received training and was often thrust into leadership roles. CEJ is where I began to find and use my voice to advocate for better educational policies and to ensure REAL and meaningful parent engagement at every turn. Soon after that I became a parent volunteer with the Alliance for Quality Education and now I am the Statewide Advocacy Director. In both spaces I was advocating on behalf of Black, Brown and immigrant parents, students and communities from NYC to NYS. It has be a true blessing to get paid for something that I did and would do for free. I have become a media spokesperson for AQE and featured on national shows like Melissa Harris-Perry talking about the racist impact of school closures to being recognized in Essence magazine as a "Mom on the Front Lines." 16 years ago if someone would have told me I would be here today I would have said, “no way”. If the local and statewide work wasn’t enough I also co-initiated a national alliance called Journey for Justice (J4J). J4J is an unapologetic space for Black and Latino youth, parents and community organizing groups in over 20 cities and towns around the country. I went from knowing that racism exists to challenging racist policies and those responsible for these policies like school closures, suspensions and funding inequity head on. I am so humbled by those who approach me after hearing me speak and say they were "inspired by my words." When mothers, fathers, young people who look like me get something from my story that leaves them motivated, that blows me away. Even with this transformation of self through organizing and relationship building, I still feel like I need more, that something is missing. I have worked really hard to push for a racial lens and analysis in my journey for educational justice but I know I can push even more. It's time for me to take a deeper, more intentional look inwards, into my Blackness. I believe that Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD) training is the next phase in my organizing journey. http://boldorganizing.org/ I need to be in a space where everyone believes that Black Lives Matter. A space that will be healing and challenging all at the same time but I need your help to get me there. Please consider making a donation, an INVESTMENT in improving ME! Thank you!