Bambadjan Bamba 
By Mwabi Kaira

"The Sunday before the announcement, the President called a national day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. So I posted on social media, “here’s one thing we can agree on.” Then a friend hit me up and said, ‘what are you agreeing with him for? He wants to cancel DACA!’ I thought, no way. Then sure enough, the following week they announced the cancellation. My heart sank. It was the same hopelessness that I felt before I got DACA. I looked at my daughter and I knew I had to do something." -Bambadjan Bamba

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For Bamba, who was brought to America as a child by his parents who were fleeing political persecution, and didn’t discover that he was undocumented until college when he was applying for financial aid, the American Dream is more than just a slogan. In America, he discovered the English language through his love of hip hop, African Americans and the way they have your back no questions asked, and the ultimate prize of becoming a Hollywood actor. Bamba has appeared in multiple TV shows and will play in the highly anticipated Black Panther film. In America, he also met his wife and welcomed a little girl. America is Bamba's home, and now it might be taken away if Congress can't pass a law.

Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, aka DACA, enacted in 2012, immigrants who entered the U.S. as children have been able to receive renewable two-year deferred action from deportation so that they can work or go to school. For a while it looked like the over 700,000 ‘Dreamers,’ as they are called, might actually have a pathway to citizenship. But with this current administration, it doesn’t seem likely. Every day 122 Dreamers lose their status; 11,000 dreamers have lost their status already. Democrats are fighting to save DACA by threatening to shut down the government on December 22nd, and there are multiple DACA replacement bills being introduced to Congress. If a bill passes before the March 5 deadline, qualified applicants will be able to remain in the US legally.

But nothing is certain, and Bamba couldn’t just sit around in limbo, waiting for something to happen.
“I was always embarrassed by my status and was hiding behind fear. Fear of getting deported, fear of career suicide, but after having my daughter I knew that I had to step out and face it head on. I never want to be separated from my family," says Bamba.
Bambadjan Bamba with his family in LA via Define American
So he teamed up with Define American, an organization that helps immigrants share their story, and went public about his DACA status. It's definitely a risky move, some have called him crazy. He hopes that his position as a Hollywood actor can help bring awareness to the issue, and put a face to DACA. He's also urging Hollywood to stand with him. He says,
“There are so many immigrants working in Hollywood behind the scenes and in front of the camera and we need them to stand with us. We need the studio heads to stand with us.”
Bamba being supported by 5th St. Studios Casting in LA
So far, support has been overwhelming from Bamba’s peers including actors Mark Ruffalo, Alyssa Milano and the creator of NBC’s ‘The Good Place,’ where Bamba is a recurring character. He's also shared his story with the LA Times, CNN, and NPR. 

Bamba on the set of 'The Good Place'
The media will have you thinking DACA is just a Mexican issue, but there are an estimated 3.7 million foreign-born black immigrants who aren't citizens, and many are facing deportation if a bill isn't passed. Call your representative. Take a picture and #standwithBamba #standwithdaca #defenddaca #dreamactnow and sign the petition here!

 Will you take a stand for DACA?

Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/
Liza Jessie Peterson by Yoshinori Hashimoto
By Sharon Pendana 

Liza Jessie Peterson is an "artivist," her art and her activism conjoined. With a deep sense of justice, it is her Libran calling to balance its scales. "I’m an artist, but my advocacy is channeled through my art," she says. "Everything I write about, everything I perform is through that lens." Her decades-long entrenchment in the carceral system spans from making the trek upstate from her Brooklyn home to visit her jailed former lover to teaching incarcerated youths at New York City's notorious Rikers Island Correctional Facility.

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These experiences inform her profound one-woman show, The Peculiar Patriot,exploring the human impact of mass incarceration, not just on inmates, but their intimates who brave the cramped, hours-long bus rides to prison visits in revolutionary acts of loyalty and commitment, "navigating love between barbed wire." She toured the show to over 30 prisons across the country to standing ovations and black power salutes before premiering it to the general public in a sold-out run at Harlem’s National Black Theatre.


In All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island, Liza mines her old journals and indelible memories to deftly chronicle her experience of being the classroom teacher, all day from 7:50 am - 2:30 pm to adolescent boys locked in a system more punitive than rehabilitative. With humor and pathos, she gives voice to these young men swept into the penal maelstrom and exposes the glaring disparity in corrections approaches between kids of color and white.

She started working at Rikers Island in 1998 to conduct a poetry workshop and was surprised to discover "the overwhelmingly disproportionate amount of Black and Latino adolescents" incarcerated there. She says, 
"It was astounding! I wasn't aware of the prison industrial complex— it was not in the zeitgeist— this was 1998. Mass incarceration was not even a phrase that people used back then. I was going in without any context. I had no idea about the cash bail system; I had no idea about the privatization of prisons. A corrections officer pointed to the boys and referred to them as the ‘new cotton’– that I was working on the plantation and the boys were the crops."
She would learn that Black and Latino children are targeted for arrest and criminalized for typical adolescent behavior. 
"Adolescents are always going to buck up against the system; they are still going to challenge authority. They are going through a stage of psychological differentiation separation, where they are exerting their independence, moving away from family toward friends and testing boundaries. It's a natural phase of adolescent development."
While working with incarcerated adolescent girls, she learned that most had histories of sexual abuse. "A lot of their acting-out comes from the unhealed wounds and unaddressed trauma in their lives," she says. As rampant revelations of sexual assault surface in this country, Liza hopes that "this heightened national dialogue will give young girls the courage to come forward and speak out about what has happened to them and know that it isn't their fault; their cries are valid, and they have support." She says that although women who have spoken out about it have been "dismissed, ignored, denied, chastised, threatened and attacked, now we’re seeing the tide turning, and men are being called to task and being held accountable for their reprehensible behavior."

She remains hopeful that the social justice pendulum will swing toward what is right and just—that the normalization of sexual misconduct will reverse, and prison reforms put an end to race-based arrests and draconian sentencing. She shares how others can effect change: "first people need to get educated on what white supremacy is — what it looks like and how it works. And vote, not just in the big elections, but the smaller local elections, too." She adds that many community-based organizations rely on donations to keep their doors open. "There are organizations already on the ground doing the work. If you have money, find out who they are and support them. Of philanthropist Agnes Gund's recent endowment she adds, "Be like Agnes; write a check."


An "interrupter of recidivism," Liza stays in contact with several of the kids and works to help them once they are released. "I’m always going to have that connection to the youth–helping them to stay alive and free and out of the grip of the criminal justice system. But I’m an artist first. I’m creating; I’m writing plays, I’m writing books, I’m writing content for television that will encapsulate my advocacy."

Photo: Garlia C. Jones-Ly


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Sharon Pendana is the creator of THE TROVE, author of Secret Washington DC and on a relentless quest to discover treasures, human and otherwise. Find her on Instagram, Medium, Twitter or binging on Netflix and Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Snaps.

Colin Kaepernick: The fashionisto.com
By Nikki Igbo
Despite the fact that Colin Kaepernick has become a household name whether a football fan or not, it’s amazing how most people don’t really know the former 49er quarterback’s background. Besides leading what can be easily described as the civil rights and social justice fight of current times, Kaepernick is pretty badass in general. Here are seven interesting facts about the kneeling freedom fighter.


Kapernick's Older Siblings
Kaepernick has siblings. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kaepernick was adopted by Teresa and Rick Kaepernick when he was just a few weeks old. He has two older siblings, his brother Kyle and sister Devon. His adoptive parents lost two other babies due to heart defects before being introduced to Heidi Russo, Kaepernick’s biological mother.

He was a very sickly kid. As a child, Kaepernick suffered from chronic ear infections. He had such constant illness that his parents had him tested for cystic fibrosis, a genetic lung disorder, twice.

Colin Kaepernick in high school
Kaepernick excels in baseball. Though he’s played youth football since he was eight years old and always dreamed of playing for either the Green Bay Packers or the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick could throw a 94 miles per hour fastball in high school. He received baseball scholarship offers from Arizona State, Notre Dame and Tennessee.
 
Colin Kaepernick playing for the University of Nevada

He’s made history in more ways than one. As a quarterback at University of Nevada, Reno, Kaepernick became the first in the history of the NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision to pass for more than 10,000 yards and rush for more than 4,000 yards.

Colin Kaepernick tatted up
Kaepernick has two Biblical verses tattooed on his body. On his left triceps, he has Psalm 27:3 which is, “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” His right arm bears Psalm 18:39, “You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me.”
Colin Kaepernick playing with the San Fransisco 49ers
His vegan diet is said to be a reason for his free agency.
In 2015, the quarterback who led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII in 2012 became a vegan. Following Kaepernick’s protest against racial injustice, a San Francisco Bay Area sports reporter Matt Maiococo tweeted, “At season’s end, Colin Kaepernick stated he was fully committed to football. But some teams are unconvinced and wonder about his vegan diet.” Such athletes as Philadelphia Cardinal Tyrann Mathieu, Houston Texan/Miami Dolphin Arian Foster, and New England Patriot Tom Brady are all vegan.


Colin Kaepernick in Harlem
Kaepernick has pledged $1 million to charitable and community-building causes. Kaepernick stated, “I will donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities, 100k a month for 10 months.” He has made good on that pledge since October 2016, having donated to such organizations as Urban Underground, Meals on Wheels, and Lower East Side Girls Club. Kaepernick also fully funds Know Your Rights Camp which is free youth campaign promoting higher education, self-empowerment and knowledge on how to properly interact with members of law enforcement in various situations.

What interesting facts do you know about Colin Kaepernick?

Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.