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BHM 2020 Guest Post: The First Step By Tasha Moore

I continue to watch Black women make bold statements on behalf of our country. I get excited when I hear of endorsements and proposed legislation that I can see will benefit the community. Often when reading, I can literally say out loud "this is needed!" And that feels good. And that matters, especially when sometimes that is the only light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel telling people "it's not as lonely in the darkness as you believe." And it renews a trust that so long as God is at the helm, it's not over, and He can move mountains on your behalf because He loves you that much.

Delaware is an interesting place. As an outsider and one who lived in Philly for 10 years prior to moving to Delaware in 2016, my grassroots work evolved from a very familiar place. My work in Philly was me as a thespian (writing, directing, producing, performing) and within residential treatment facilities for minors who have been adjudicated or have been diagnosed as in the DSM. Seeing these kids being warehoused as borderline delinquents while being asked to live away from their families (sometimes in other states) and with youth who have challenges that require round the clock care and medical treatment, led me to ask questions to try to make things better.  After 12 years of work, I emancipated myself and began grassroots work on the same issues.

My work began as an organizer aiming to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. However, being an ordained preachers' kid - I cannot "rock" with everyone. God gave me a task to carry out and He sent me here to do it, but those who are doing grassroots work across the state who like me - have been less than supportive of my work since 2016, because it hasn't been what they wanted, or what they could produce from me - so in a way, I have been "blackballed" by the very community I aim to bring change to.

Over the past year of my life, I've watched God strip me of everything to test my faith in this. It was never my intent to be in anyone's political space, but convictions and the still small voice within won't let me walk away. Because I know and have heard the cries from the community and I see the gaps and overlaps and lack of understanding to the community as a disconnect from their FREEDOMS, so I choose to stand IN the gap for them. My work became youth-focused after I produced a TED Talk and participated in a FOR FREEDOMS Town Hall around public education as a panelist. This turned into an interview for a documentary created by the Delaware Center for Justice around the same issue. As an RJ Practitioner,  I went on to be a panelist at a National Restorative Justice in Education Conference in Virginia. Lastly, as an NAACP State Youth and College officer, I'm compelled to be the change the youth seek - according to what they express.

And resting on God's promise to me, the youth see the folding chair in my pocket, so they will be the ones to give me a seat at the table, beginning with my current initiative - aiming to raise awareness, again to the Black and Brown students in the public education system. This state has long been failing our youth and most recently took a deeper dive and "warehoused" some of our youth in a public school district and the kids are suffering the most. And the more I hear from the education community, the worse it is becoming.

I am hoping to begin to remedy this anchoring in the demise of Black and Brown youth. I am building a series of Town Halls that I would like to host around the state - in each county - around PUSHOUT, and further the ENDING PUSHOUT ACT. As I begin to create the buzz - most people (including educators) are unaware of the PUSHOUT concept, let alone the Act or that it's even a problem in the state. Yet, yours truly has been examining the issue since 2016.

So with God guiding my vision and the souls of my ancestors in my cadence, rhythm, and movement, I keep going. I will continue to stand.

I continue to be a light. I made the choice to stand UP when most others didn't have the heart to.

Tasha Moore is a Community Organizer and Restorative Justice Practitioner in Delaware. She is an "Artpreneur" (artist and entrepreneur), Youth Advocate and dedicated catalyst for change in the lives of others.

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