BORN IN: Dallas, Texas, 1972
INTERVIEWED IN: San Francisco, California
Interview Conducted by Ion Vlad and Reggie Daniels
We first meet Georgia on a Thursday evening, at a café located in the School of Education at the University of San Francisco. Georgia is a single mother living in Oakland with her two daughters. She once owned a successful hair salon, but has struggled with addiction and spent several years in and out of prison. She speaks calmly about the challenges of reentry and rebuilding a life in a rapidly gentrifying city; the students slowly filter out until we are alone in the café.
I GREW THIS BIG IMAGINATION
We live in one of the richest nations, in one of the richest cities of that nation, but we have so little resources for those of us who are in need. There’s so much out there that I don’t have access to, that’s so far away from me attaining. That’s what I felt after getting out.
My mother and father are from Dallas, Texas, and I was born there. The roots of our family are in Somalia. I grew up in inner-city Oakland, in the East Bay, and I am the mother of two daughters: one age sixteen and the other eighteen.
My mother was a single parent without a husband. I was an only child for fourteen years, and then I had a sibling. During the only child period, I lived a very sheltered life. We lived in a high-crime neighborhood that was unruly. The times that my mother would let me spend outside were highly supervised. I would often be the kid in the window, watching the other kids play outside. When I would go out, there was generally nobody else out there.
That was difficult for me, and I became introverted. I grew this big imagination, given that I was alone all the time and playing by myself. Also, I grew up very sad without having my father. My mother used a form of old-school punishment to discipline me, which is whipping your kid. Despite the fact that I was a good kid and got good grades, my mother was a disciplinarian from a Southern farm. I struggled with what is abuse and what is not abuse. What is too much and, if I get good grades, why am I in trouble? Where’s my daddy to save me from this happening? Is my mother crazy, you know? I even tried to run away from home in those days.
I was really frightened into submission because there was sex trauma in my family. I was inappropriately touched at a very young age by female family friends. On top of that, I was exposed to pornography when I was seven or eight years old. My mother was overnighting at friends’ and took us with her. The friends that she chose for me to have sleepovers with were the children of the women that she was involved with. It was comfortable for me to do sleepovers because my mom was there. Plus, I didn’t really have a voice of my own in front of my mom.
You don’t have to abuse a child by raping them physically, you can violate them mentally and rape them by just exposing them to prostitution and corrupting their minds. That period was very difficult for me and I’m still dealing with that trauma now, as an adult, by just now being able to admit this. Had we had this discussion three years ago, I wouldn’t be talking about this.
I coped by growing a very large imagination. I would make up superhero stories, unicorn stories, stories in which I was invincible and could escape the most difficult things. It was always about going to some place far away, where there were no problems or troubles.
DOING MY OWN BEAUTY WORK
In high school, I was a majorette, a girl scout, and I participated in a variety of beauty pageants. After high school, I got into the fashion and modeling business and had an agent. I got into the fashion business because I wasn’t feeling pretty. I was feeling insecure with my darker skin and wanting to be attractive. I got into modeling because somebody said, “You should be a model.” I think that was connected to sex and the need for validation, so I went to fashion shows and started being in pictorials. Although I learned about my beauty and I was able to make a profession out of it, that’s not how I went into it or how I learned to believe in myself. It was basically an escape.
But I did notice that in the beauty field, resources were scarce when it came to African American women: our skin care, our hair care, all these aspects were missing. And so, I began to do my own beauty work in the fashion industry and I started to get booked for major fashion companies, such as L’Oréal. I realized I was pretty good at this, and I had a lot of friends who praised my talent. I started being in pictorials and ads and designing products for them and gradually the network grew. I thought, I can make a career out of beauty work, and I did for a while.
I graduated high school in 1991 and was in the beauty and fashion-modeling business for about ten years. I lived in Europe and Los Angeles doing this type of work including nude pictorials. I had to fight the women in my family, who rejected me for doing pictorials. I’m still suffering from those broken relationships. In 2001, I was able to open my own beauty and hair salon in Oakland. But even after I managed to build my own business, I was so wounded internally that I started using alcohol to fill the void of not being loved by some of my family and growing up without a father.
As I mentioned, I used to own a hair salon on the lake in Oakland. That was my career for fifteen and a half years, in a brick and mortar building, until it became a mobile business. Some of it was still salon-based, but I was also mixing in the mobile aspect. I had good-paying clients, quite stylish clients, and I would travel to their homes in some cases. So, I had gotten myself to the upper level of the industry and I was raising two daughters in the East Bay, who were entering their adolescence. Nevertheless, drinking was a constant problem for me that I was not able to completely shake off.
The offense that led to my incarceration took place in November, 2014. My arrest was a DUI, and it wasn’t my first offense. In fact, it was my third offense and I had been arrested previously. After my previous arrests, I’d been able to go through a work program through the sheriff’s department, which didn’t quite work for me. I felt that their “rehabilitative” approach was meant to scare and punish. The emphasis was on generating remorse and critiquing your own behaviors, without tackling the underlying causes of such self-destructive behaviors. It was very punitive and guilt-inflicting. It didn’t make me feel like I was dealing with the problem of drinking but only with the consequences of drinking.
I was incarcerated for sixty days in the Santa Rita Jail facility in San Ramon, California. With room for almost 3,500 inmates, it is one of the biggest correctional facilities in the state. Failure was constantly reiterated and I kept spiraling downward as a consequence. I wasn’t being taught about how parts of my childhood might have been traumatic or how I could manage those childhood wounds and become a different version of me. I didn’t have the capacity to keep being beaten up like that, so I relapsed.
Then I ended up trying to get some form of recovery, taking some classes, which didn’t work for me at the time. So, I suppose, things really caught up with me and I was ultimately incarcerated because I hadn’t dealt with my issues constructively. I was still in the cycle of alcoholism.
BEING STRIPPED AWAY
I remember the day I walked into prison clearly. I just felt really appalled. This was my first experience, you know, of going through this process. The jail was pretty dirty. There was spit on the walls, and you could even see fecal matter and urine. It was just totally nasty. So I struggled with the whole check-in. The process was very traumatic. I was touched in a way that’s not appropriate. But what was I to say at that point? And who was I to say it to? I wondered if I’d get worse treatment if I didn’t do everything that they were telling me to do. So I didn’t know. I didn’t have anything to compare what was right and what was wrong to I just did what I was told. Undressing and having to wait in that room to be processed was dreadful.
The holding tank was a very small space, around a hundred by a hundred square feet, accommodating a few dozen people. The few benches that were there were completely taken. So I had to stand mostly. But you can wait for hours. There’s no place to sit, or you’re on the floor, and they have up to eighteen hours to process you. The floor was so dirty and so cold. When they even give you something, it’s a very cheap tissue, the very minimum, one piece. You have to ask for it. I laid on a tissue that I happened to have with me. This process went on for a couple hours.
They have a removal policy on all items that you are wearing: your hair band, all your jewelry, whatever it is. I wore jewelry pierced in my nose and other parts of my body, rings on my toes. My hair was beaded. The African beads that I wear have cultural meaning, to honor my ancestors. So I had to take those beads and piercings out, and that’s personal. That experience is like having your hair cut, you know, by force. It just felt wrong, like a stripping where you feel naked. You feel that the strength of your ancestors, armor against a certain type of negativity, is being stripped away. And the angels of protection are not there anymore.
After they checked me in, they assigned me to a room. There were six to seven people in those small cell rooms. In the larger rooms at Santa Rita, there were maybe twenty to twenty-five people bunched together. At times they would just unload these buses and people flooded everywhere. And we ended up with women laying on the floor, in poor sanitation. And, you know, there were menstrual issues, women’s issues, that went unaddressed. It was just unbearably cold. We were huddled together and it got to a point where we were putting tissue over our bodies for cover and looking for sheets of paper from our check-in and asking, “Can you turn the air conditioning off?”
The first stages of incarceration were really hard and I cried a lot. But, you know, there’s really no crying in jail. Nobody wants to hear you cry. You got arrested, you know? So I had to deal with all of that. The women who were in the cell with me and going through emotional changes said, “Shut the fuck up!” Basically, “We’ve all been here and nobody’s sad for you.” Prayer is what kept me going through those moments. That difficult process definitely strengthened my spiritual bond with God. Plus, I’m a visual person. Oftentimes I’d visualize my daughters, their faces, and their growth, and that would give me the strength to not give up.
The impact of incarceration on me, a mother, a single mother, being taken away from my family was just tremendous. When I first realized I could be facing these DUI charges and be incarcerated, I enrolled my two daughters, who were in middle school at that point, in the Oakland Military Institute, a military academy. And my mother, who wasn’t retired at the time, took time off work to be with the girls. She was a major assistance as a surrogate.
The incarceration hardship, and what followed, has been extreme for me. But I have a history of women in my family who have far bigger parenting capacity, more children. My grandmother had fourteen children and my grandfather was never there. He had a farm and he had a church and everything, so she raised the kids pretty much by herself, but he was the provider. My mother took care of me by herself, so I kind of fell into what was expected of me already. I’ve been conditioned to expect that Black women are supposed to take care of their children by themselves. I felt a sense of disconnection and that there was not support. I was unhealthily accustomed to not having support.
Because there was no support for me, I even thought a few times about making money under the table as a woman, as a jezebel. You know, I thought, I’m pretty. Maybe I can find a pimp and we could just go to restaurants and do something. I did think about that. It brought me to a low, low place. I had a couple of friends that I met in my lifetime who were in that industry, in that business. In deciding whether that was the route I wanted to take, I reached out to both of them. One guy, who was a pimp said: “Georgia, you don’t have what it takes. These streets would eat you up!” He gave me a test. He said, “Ok, I’m going to set you up and see what you’re going to do.” And he ran the scenario by me. I never actually went out with anybody. He just told me, “This is what it’s going to be like.” And I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the process of doing that. He said the women out there are in a straight survival mode and a lot of them are on drugs and just trying to stay afloat. “That’s not you; that’s not your life. you’re not made for that stuff,” he told me. And so I just couldn’t bring myself to go through that mentally. And then I talked to another friend of mine, who was a stripper in Vegas. And she said, “No!” She had to take ecstasy every night just to be on the pole. And she knew me, she knew who I was. It was a fast life and she hoped to get out of it. Talking to people I knew who were in that business helped me. if I hadn’t know people who were in it, I might been foolish enough to get involved on my own. Growing up , I knew people who were in that field and I just talked to them and they convinced me not to fool around.
While in prison, I missed the graduation from the culinary school I was attending. I remember begging prison officials to be able to attend. “Please let me out for a day so I can graduate,” I said. “This gives me a new life,” you know what I’m saying? That was my new start. That was me saying, I’m not going to be in the salon industry no more because that brought me too much trouble. So let me change my career. But that got snatched away from me too. And, you know what? I hated being a chef. I absolutely hated that job. I hated everything about it. But that’s for me to decide, not for you to decide. Because you took away from me the opportunity to choose for myself. That’s what was taken away from me.
NEVER ABANDON THEM
The day I got out in November 2014 was thrilling. I knew I was about to see my daughters again. There were twenty inmates in the cell that day, ten on the top bunks and ten on the bottom. When it’s time to be released, they call your name and you roll up. When they called my name, I started shouting like I was in church on Sunday! I was like, I’m outta here, you know? And it was such a relief, going from bondage to freedom. Tears were coming down my face. I was leaving things; I was giving away things that I was holding on for dear life while I was in there. Chips, snacks, and nuts, everything that I thought was valuable. Things that we normally take for granted but are so valuable inside, you know. I was just giving everything to everybody. I was like, “Here, you can have this, this, and this.” It was a really uplifting feeling. The only thing I didn’t give away was a notepad that I got from a cellmate named Mama Bee for doing her hair. She was like a mother to everyone in the cell and looked out for folks. I made friends with her because she realized that I had never been there before.
When I was released, I went through processing, got checked out, got my clothes, got my stuff. I didn’t have the money that I had left in my pocket anymore, you know, but that was alright. Mama, my mother, was there. She had walked up to the doors while my daughters were waiting in the car. When I embraced her, we cried a lot together. It had taken a lot out of her to be the surrogate guardian for my daughters so abruptly like that. All of a sudden, she had to become the mother of my children. When I met up with the three of them in the car, my family, I made a deal with them, a pact. I made a promise to them that I’ll always take care of them, I’ll always put them first. I’ll never abandon them. And ever since, it’s been me striving to hold up to that promise with everything I do.
FALLING DOWN AGAIN
Once I got out, housing was an immediate challenge because I was facing an eviction. I was already behind on my rent prior to the two months that I’d been gone and there was not enough time for me to go into an eviction process with my landlord. Since I was already behind on the rent when I went into jail, someone else had to move my stuff out and start the moving process. I couldn’t get the lease renewed. And I lost the salon space that I was leasing. So I ended up being homeless with my daughters.
My mom didn’t have space for me and was still pretty upset with what I did. Luckily, she was able to accommodate the girls during most nights. Meanwhile, I would sleep on a friend’s couch somewhere or in my car. I had two friends, one lived in Richmond and the other in San Pablo. They had a salon and there were times when my daughters and I would just sleep in their salon on the drier chairs. I kept struggling with alcoholism at the time, going in and out of programs and trying to make sense of how it got this far and why I did not have a way to quit.
A lot of my friends had apparently decided to write off bad relationships and, when I went into prison, I wasn’t doing people right. There was a degree of separation that was already occurring, which was only exacerbated after my release. Just kind of fitting back into a social environment that made sense proved to be very difficult.
There’s a particular stigma around good behavior and bad behavior in the Black community. Sometimes going to jail is viewed as a good thing or a defiant rite of passage, in some particular cases. But in other cases, like mine, the formerly incarcerated can be socially shunned; we don’t talk or deal with them because they’ve been to jail! A lot of friends just threw in the towel because I was just trying to tell them what I’ve been through, but they weren’t even trying to hear it. They were like, “Why’d you call me with this?” I had to navigate that and figure out who was out there for me. I also knew I’d burned some bridges, but I didn’t even remember which ones, because I was so out of it that I didn’t remember what I did and said. That was very challenging.
Since I had been sober for sixty days, I was struggling to preserve the sobriety and not go back to the same circles that I’d been in before. And that was a massive challenge. On top of that, I had no money left and finding work in my circumstances was another big challenge because there was a part of me that felt like I was incompetent.
As I mentioned, I went homeless and jobless and I relapsed after being released. I stayed like that for a year, before I could recover and move into consistent sobriety. At first, there wasn’t much at all out there for me. Luckily, I’d met a fellow inmate while in Santa Rita Jail who’d mentioned to me the 2 MOMS Program that the state was running. This was rather random, as the program was not advertised appropriately in jail. It was a rumor among the inmates. And if I wasn’t in the right pod, next to the right person, the jail wouldn’t have told me that I qualified. Which makes me think now, in retrospect, Why was there not more advertising of this program for a person like me? Why were only some people told about it and not others? And what else did I miss out on that could’ve made a difference while being incarcerated and after my release?
IN THE MOMS PROGRAM
2 MOMS Program stands for Maximizing Opportunities for Mothers to Succeed and is an Oakland-based program designed to provide assistance to formerly incarcerated mothers with reuniting with their families, battling addictive behaviors, and finding free housing. Some of the courses involve participation from both mothers and children in the same educational space.
In the fall of 2015, I was still unemployed and living with friends when I was finally able to join this program, just about a year after my release from Santa Rita Jail. In the MOMS program I took several self-empowerment classes to get a certificate and become educated on how to treat my alcoholism. The courses were based around recovery, employment anger management, parenting, life skills, alcohol addiction, health and wellness. The program was an incentive for people to do good work after their release and to consolidate their rehabilitation in order to eventually qualify for subsidized housing. There was at least the theoretical promise: get housing if you stick with these classes and pass them. This program ultimately saved me from irreversible homelessness and relapse. But I wasn’t allowed to access it until over a year of being homeless, because initially they didn’t think that my case was severe enough!
As a single mother who had gone through the system, these resources were not presented to me immediately after release. I was left having to basically fight and scrap for them in the dark. I wasn’t told by anybody in the system, “You know, here are the programs that are available to single moms who have children.” It was after the fact, when I was already thrown on the streets, that I was finally connected with these so-called state programs. When I think about the process that I went through to finally get into the MOMS program, it feels as if it was withheld from me for a year.
As I mentioned, somebody in the prison told me about the program. When I got out, the decision-makers tried to keep me from signing up. They found different ways to keep me disqualified from the program. I fought for it, and they eventually had to put me on a waitlist because I knew someone, Miss Mattie.
Miss Mattie was a teacher, and taught some of the rehabilitative classes in Santa Rita Jail. I don’t even know her full name, we just knew her as Mattie. She was a dark-skinned African American woman who had locks and wore glasses. She was just really sincere. She exercised this unmatched faith, where she just believed. And when she believed, I believed. She just believed that I could, no matter what. It’s making me cry because, you know, it was at a time when I just couldn’t believe in myself.
During the first year I was out of jail and homeless, I lost touch with her. But the bunkie who had introduced me to her in Santa Rita was eventually released and told me that Miss Mattie was teaching in the MOMS Program. Mattie was very nurturing and caring. She was my backer. She knew I was suffering from a clinical diagnosis and alcoholism. She tried to assist me and get through the admission process with the support services that came with the program. The program had Alcoholic Anonymous classes, parenting classes, anger management classes. It gave you an apartment with brand-new appliances. The only requirement was that you stuck with the program.
When the sheriff’s department took over the program in 2015, all the rules changed, and the program became only accessible to those who were just getting out of prison. Since I had already been out of prison for two years I was left out of the program. However, I was still very much struggling. I wasn’t getting the assistance that I needed. I wasn’t getting treatment. I was sober, but I was a dry drunk. Once the sheriff’s department took over, I realized they weren’t sensitive to my case. Apparently, I wasn’t bad enough to qualify for things that lifers or more serious felons qualify for. But I was too far into it to get the benefits of not having a scarred record. So I’m in the middle. Of course I’m going to relapse.
CAN’T FIX A PROBLEM WITH THE SAME THINGS THAT CREATED IT
So I relapsed once more. In early 2017 I got into the program at East Bay Recovery based in San Leandro, California. It wasn’t until then that I regained my footing. This center provides non-judgmental and personalized treatment to individuals struggling with drug and alcohol dependencies.
They monitored me for eighteen months, while I strove to put my life together by finding employment with the American Legion Auxiliary in San Francisco and securing a rental apartment for me and my daughters in Oakland. The American Legion Auxilary is the women’s arm of the American Legion; a nonprofit that serves veterans’ and their families.
While at East Bay Recovery, I started a type of therapy called EMDR5. 5 EMDR stands for Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing treatment, which concentrates on using a patient’s rapid and rhythmical eye movements designed to alleviate mental and emotional trauma. This cycle analysis therapy involves the left and right sides of the brain being tested alternatively to uncover layers of trauma that cause addictions and addictive behaviors. My specialist and I would spend an hour every session going into layers of childhood trauma that I had buried so deep inside of me. I didn’t even know it and it was triggering me. I wasn’t aware. So I was repeating this behavior that I didn’t understand.The court allowed me to continue this valuable treatment as part of my probation. I wish I had known about this treatment much earlier in my life, during my previous arrests.
Previously, I had tried three other rehabilitation programs and failed because they were not effective despite being recommended by the sheriff’s office. I would never have relapsed if I knew from the beginning about cycle analysis therapy. I’m positive about that. That’s why I feel that education and exposure to the programs that match with the client are so important. I’m Black, I’m from Oakland. I have a difficult time receiving information that’s supposed to be for my wellness from somebody who doesn’t look like me, who can’t relate to my experiences. You can’t fix a problem with the same things that created the problem in the first place. It calls for something else, every case is different. In my case, I needed someone that I could relate to, who understood what I was dealing with.
THOSE WHO ARE LEFT OUT
Gradually, I’ve been able to put my life back together by understanding the roots of my trauma and learning discipline. Specifically, I’ve been practicing sobriety and celibacy for two and a half years. I’ve gained a sense of independence. I’ve learned how to stay grounded and about the type of relationships that are supportive and conducive to my well being. I’ve made friends in churches with people in similar situations. Since 2017, I’ve had the opportunity to work for the American Legion and assist with their recovery efforts: housing homeless veterans and feeding them. As a sign of recognition for my work, when I came to San Francisco I was elected president of the American Legion Auxiliary on Van Ness Avenue. I was able to lead and we acquired a rental property. The property owner already had an interest in subsidized housing, so it was a very good fit.
This property is in need of some rehabilitation. Right now, at the legion we’re in the process of merging our businesses into one that can accommodate both reentry and recovery, plus offer assistance to veterans who are in need of transitional housing or some type of counseling and programming. We’re calling this endeavor Better Choice Housing. When they do not need housing, individuals can just take part in the recovery process.
My job is to provide exposure to resources. The task always revolves around being able to create opportunities for those who don’t know about them, who don’t have the education and support around them. A lot of the repeated failures in this field are because of a lack of awareness about resources. The information is often being withheld or not transmitted efficiently to the ones who need it most. Ours is a resource center that aims to remedy that situation. We have about twelve PCs here, in cubicles, and we just received a $20,000 grant to rebuild and redesign everything. This is a place that allows me to advocate for those who are left out or overlooked, and even conduct ministry. You know, I’ve been ordained and I have an inner beauty ministry. One of the things that occurred to me in prison is that we’re all the same. We’re all hiding from something and there’s healing that’s necessary. It is a place where I’m able to influence change.
As a former salon owner, I know what it’s like to feel down and need your spirit to be uplifted, to be cared for and nurtured. Not just through your appearance and taking care of your hair and nails and your personal grooming, but also through the food you eat, the medicine you take, your dietary plan, and even the influence of art that’s healing. In the substance abuse and anger management area, meditation is scientifically proven to make an enormous difference in terms of rehabilitation. The statistics prove that value.
I read about a recent study done in a school with sixth-grade boys from an impoverished neighborhood. Meditation reduced the delinquency and drop-out rates because researchers sat down with the boys and let them breathe within and rehabilitate themselves. That’s what we’re missing as a country in terms of our rehabilitative system. It’s just really punitive. It’s “I’ll punish you for a crime, and who cares why you did it? You just lost your family, you know, someone was shot. Who cares about your parents who went through a divorce? Who cares about all your personal stuff? We only care about everyone else around you that you’re endangering. We really don’t care if you endanger yourself.”
I know that might sound a little bit angry, but I do have some anger about what has not been done to help people, to lift their spirits and their humanity. I think of my case, my lived experiences. How was I making a six-figure income and then I fall so far that nobody sees me sleeping on the street? I mean, I’m a grown woman, I’m not a child. How does that happen? Surely, there must be something wrong with her, you know? And why can everyone turn their back and say, “Oh, we hope she gets better on her own”? Meanwhile we have all these resources here that she doesn’t know about.
TELL MY STORY SO THAT OTHERS CAN LEARN
Even now, after several years, I’m finding it really hard to tell my story. I’m often not sure who I really want to know and who I can trust. Part of me says that most people have no idea what I’ve been through and they don’t want to know either. But another part says that I need to tell my story so that others can learn and we don’t allow any more people to go through the same experiences. I’ve been doing a lot of reflective writing to cope with this internal struggle.
My studies in college revolved around art and writing. I’m working on a way to incorporate art into the counseling at the transitional program that we’re running with the American Legion. I’m also an author with several publications.
My first book was a beauty book, what I call a Beauty Bible. It has all the beauty basics in terms of cosmetology, but it also has religion and wellness. I have a chapter about meditation and self-care. I even go into intimacy. The target audience is women and girls ages eighteen to twenty-six. The second book that I wrote is a coffee table recipe book. It has the recipes that I cultivated over my years in the beauty industry. For instance, the best recipes for hair care. I have anxiety recipes with herbs and oils.
The third book is the same type of recipe book but it’s for smoothies. I went to culinary school because in one of the recovery programs you can do culinary. I started a business called “Dinner for You,” which is a personal chef business. It revolves around the vegan lifestyle and foods that help you lose weight, reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cancer, and stimulate hair growth and beauty.
During the pandemic, I’ve been striving to keep my spirit up. There are a lot of people who are surviving and doing well, so I surround myself with them. I do daily prayer and meditation, every morning. Given the closures, I cook more. I’m at home, so I’m glad to have a healthy and nourishing meal with my family in the evenings and get good rest. I’ve been able to grow spiritually throughout this crisis and I feel God is preparing me for some really wonderful things. Nevertheless, there have been challenges.
I had to quarantine for fourteen days in August 2020. A couple of our family members got the virus. And I have an aunt who has cancer. So my mother had to go through a fourteen-day quarantine because she does some of the care for my aunt. My daughters are out of school, but they’re working in retail and food services. It has been a major adjustment for us and we have to take a lot of precautions. The virus has done a lot to us, but I haven’t let myself get down.
*Narrative developed in conjunction with Voice of Witness.
About the Authors: Reggie Daniels is an adjunct professor at The University of San Francisco. He is the founder and director of the non-profit Transformational Miracles. His work with the organization involves offering assistance to formerly-incarcerated people and their families.
Ion Vlad, a native of Romania, is director of The Miner Anderson Family Foundation and a writing consultant and guest lecturer at The University of San Francisco’s School of Education. His research background is in human rights and peace education.