Leticia Joins the Movement and Our Meeting w/District Attorney

As not only a minority in America but a Black Woman in America, as a resident of Houston, Texas and a citizen of the United States of America; I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say that we are tired and fed up with the way not just Blacks-- but the way minorities are so blatantly disrespected in the eyes of the public.  It’s not a race thing it’s a human thing.  We are all the same.  So what gives anyone the right to take a life or unfairly discriminate against someone just because they feel as if they can?  All of the young lives lost and those that are being continuously taken have opened our eyes as the entire world realizes, Ferguson is everywhere.  We do not live in a post racial society we walk, talk and breathe racism, unjust treatment and unequal rights every day.  As many others I don’t just face the stereotypes of being Black in America but I have to also deal with discrimination in the Hispanic/Latino community.  Its ridiculous how divided we are due to the color of our skin; especially when so many of us share many of the same origins.  
 
During the 2014 Thanksgiving Holiday while visiting family in Denver protestors were flooding the cities all across America including in Colorado.  Back in Houston the same was happening.  It was inspiring and uplifting to know that society is ready for change.  Once back home I reached out to my good friend and Co-Founder Shekira Dennis and asked her what she needed me to do.  Tired of sitting around watching as our communities are continuously being torn down I knew I needed to be a part of the change. 
 
The Houston Justice Coalition has been working tirelessly to mend the broken relationships of our surrounding communities and law enforcement.   Since becoming involved with the Houston Justice Coalition, we have organized grand jury application drives with efforts to diversify the grand jury process in Harris County.  Volunteers and notaries public are onsite to ensure applicants are able to apply to the grand jury and register to vote with ease.  The purpose of the drive was to target individuals who not only hoped for a difference, but  wanted to be a part of change as we look to diversify the grand jury in our very own Ferguson.  Members of HJC recently became Voter Registrars to ensure the community is able to exercise their right to vote.  
 
HJC has participated and assisted with the organization of Vigil’s, March’s and Peaceful Demonstrations in Houston as well as in Austin at the MILLIONS MARCH TEXAS: #BLACKLIVESMATTER.  Not stopping there, HJC is making sure that the community has a voice in the legislative process, in the policy making, in the way their taxes are spent, in the way they are treated by law enforcement and what can be done to bridge the divide and feelings of distrust when it comes to the justice system.   
 
The Houston Justice Coalition is continuously staying engaged with law enforcement and policy makers.  Most recently we met with District Attorney Devon Anderson regarding some of the most very important issues that plagues our communities.  Through our efforts, she's agreed to put in writing her support for grand jury reform components publicly.  Transparency in our community is very important when it comes to making decisions that directly affect our communities.   So many young men and women have their lives destroyed by the justice system.  A misdemeanor charge for a first time offense of possession can make it extremely difficult for an individual to advance their life.   
 
We are pleased to know the police department is working on a pilot program to assist first time offenders avoiding having charges placed on their record.  These are all great steps in the right direction but there is so much more that needs to be done.  We can’t forget about those who are still struggling to find gainful employment from a mistake from the very distant past.  So the solutions we need to come up with are what can we do to help our society continue to grow past the stigmas that plague us, that keep up down and prevent us from expanding.  
 
The organization is working closely with Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia in efforts to assist with the transparency of the police department and the community voice being included in the decision making process.  For instance in regards to the body cameras; what features will make law enforcement safer for both officer and citizen?  What happens with the data?  Will the data be automatically uploaded to a safe place of keeping?  How long is the data saved?  These and so many more questions are still up in the air and the community needs a front row seat at the decision-making table.  
 
As a young black woman looking for her place in society I knew this would be a great start to not only seeing change but actually being an active part in the changes that are to come.  Currently, I work for The Houston Public Library Foundation which works in efforts to assist the Houston Public Library System in fulfilling their mission and vision.  Literacy is a major part for the success rates in our communities.  There are so many statistics that show how illiterate many of our citizens are.  With this need it is important that we are all doing something to help educate those who do not know the pertinent information they need to know, information that affects their very being of their lives.   
 
Aside from my career in the Non-Profit world I am a singer/songwriter, a poet and writer in my own right.  I’ve always been a conscious writer and have always felt that we are all role models in our own right.  It saddens me that so many artists do not take the role model title seriously; leaving many of our youth misguided.  Being an active part of the movement assists me in my writings by allowing me to personally attribute my life experiences to the changes I wish to by apart of today.   It is my hope that we can all learn to encourage, inspire, love and uplift each other in a harmonious way of living; one in which we will rise together not fall as we tear each other down.  
 
I know so many people including myself who have been harassed countless times by the police, or suspected of doing wrong doing just because of the color of our skin.  I don’t even feel safe in my place of residence because police officers automatically associate my skin color with bad behavior.  “I remember coming home one evening, my condominiums are remotely accessed.  The moment my friend and I pulled into the complex we were vastly approached by two police officers.  They proceeded to invade our space, grab us and ask what we were doing and why were we here.”  Not for one second thinking that we could possibly just be coming home for the evening.  Together, we can tear down the wall of distrust between law enforcement and the community.
 
The tragic deaths of so many innocent lives due to senseless acts continue to rise with each day.  The gruesome murders of 26 year old Jordan Baker, 17 year old Trayvon Martin, 44 year old Eric Garner, 18 year old Mike Brown, Tamir Rice a 12 year old young boy from Cleveland, Ohio; and what about our women and girls? 7 year old Aiyana Jones from Detroit murdered while she slept on her father’s couch.  In Chicago there was 22 year old Reika Boyd, 48 year old Yvette Smith from Texas; and so many countless others that are swept under the rug to be forgotten because our lives don’t matter to those who hold the power.  Our lives matter, everyone’s life matters.      
 
It’s time to show the citizens of the community that we won’t sit back idly and watch as some of those with power and influence that appear to be relentlessly abusing their powers to satisfy their own selfish despicable pleasures.   
 
Here we are 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement still working endlessly to be accepted, still fighting for equal rights.  It is said in the declaration of independence that We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Clearly words mean nothing.  Actions mean everything.  And true equal rights for all is far overdue.  There is no more room for talking the time is now for action.