Endorsements

As an organization committed to fusing gender justice and racial justice, we have been deeply impressed by Natasha’s creative and community work about the issues facing Black women and girls. We believe that her participation at our institute at Vassar College, the extraordinary multi-media performance that she staged at the 2015 Conference of the Michigan Sociological Association based on the theme of #SayHerName that I witnessed personally, and our ongoing conversations with her about her work formed the basis for a firm and productive partnership. Natasha’s extraordinary success in developing, staging and building public support for creative performances by Black women and girls, her ingenuity in designing and executing productions that speak powerfully yet also artistically to social issues, and her clarity about implementing the intersectional approaches that the Policy Forum’s co-founder and executive director Kimberle Crenshaw has long championed, made Natasha the perfect person for a partnership with our organization. Her emphasis on the impact of the workings of contemporary criminal justice institutions on Black women and girls directly speaks to the mission and ongoing work of our organization.” Dr. George Lipsitz, Chair of the Board of Directors of the African American Policy Forum, Professor at the University of California, and author of over a dozen books including “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness”

 

Natasha and her work embody the vision of using art as a vehicle for social change. Natasha has dedicated her career to using her artistic inclinations and talent as a performance artist to call attention to critical social issues and as a tool for empowering women and youth in her community. I met Natasha when she applied to and was accepted for a communications training that I led earlier this month… there is an opportunity, as always with Natasha’s projects, to empower and educate youth via storytelling and performance. Moreover, given that Natasha lives and works in Flint, Michigan, there is tremendous opportunity for the youth she works with to shift the narrative in the community, for them to uphold their dignity, and challenge the inhumane treatment that they have been subjected to.” – Naomi Abraham, Independent Story/Communications Strategist, WonderForGood

“RAISE IT UP!’s programming aligns with the (Ennis Center) Fostering Creativity’s goals of providing a safe, consistent environment where youth are free to express themselves, becoming more self-aware, learning positive ways to resolve conflict, strengthening skills in numerous art mediums, in addition to increasing self-esteem, feelings of belonging to a community, and academic performance. During each 12-week session, RAISE IT UP! establishes a safe environment by allowing youth to create their own rules and guidelines to follow, and instilling respect, empathy, and accountability to/for one another. Natasha and Lyndava (partner/co-founder) model these things for the youth participants each week, redirecting them to their goals when/if they forget. Their consistency, infused with love for the youth and patience for their process, creates the soil for healthy growth to occur. They navigate through such topics as gender identity and race with such respect, care, and ease that youth leave each week feeling heard and empowered and with a stronger sense of individual and collective identity as opposed to feeling raw, exposed, and isolated. Youth art work, expressive writing, and performances act as vehicles of empowerment and resiliency in order to promote change in their futures and community. Of all the classes offered through Fostering Creativity, RAISE IT UP! stands out for helping to create future leaders and advocates, instilling the importance of equality and respect for one another, and investment in the community. They have been an integral part of our programming from the beginning and we feel grateful to continue the partnership.” – Autumn Heddy, M.Ed., Art Therapist, and Fostering Creativity Program Manager at the Ennis Center for Children