The National Bail Out director on finding her political identity, freeing Black mamas, and helping those who help.
AS TOLD TO GOSSAMER
This Conversation with Arissa appears in the newest print volume of Gossamer, but we’ve decided to run it online ahead of schedule to help spotlight the incredible work she and her organization do—now and all the time. To pre-order Volume Five, go here. We are continuing to donate 5% of all sales to non-profit bailout groups all across the country, as well as organizations dedicated to dismantling systemic racism as we know it. If you’d like to donate directly, we recommend National Bail Out, Fair Fight, and Black Visions Collective, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can suggest others.
Life started on Long Island. I am the granddaughter of black migrants in the south who came up from South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia in the ’60s. Both of my parents are born and raised New Yorkers. Family is really important to me, and I try to be really intentional in building and maintaining relationships with them. But I also have family outside of blood based in deep friendship.
I always say that I was born on Long Island, but I was raised in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is where I would go and hang out as a teenager, and where I came into myself and my being. It’s where I first experienced the diversity of Blackness, and where I first came into my queerness. Brooklyn very much raised me.