Brianna Jones (they/them/theirs) is a student and educator at the University of Washington Seattle. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, FL, they moved to Tacoma in 2008 and found themselves in a more progressive culture where they had room to grow. Having graduated from Foss High School, they now are studying Social Welfare and aim to graduate in 2019. They also work as the Lead Residence Education Programmer at UW, where they work with a team to educate UW residents about diversity, academic success, and wellness. As a genderfluid pansexual black person, Brianna is incredibly passionate about creating intersectional safe spaces for people of color and the LGBTQ community. In addition to their work with social justice, they love to write and compose music, and hope to inspire others to get involved in “the work” through their art.
“To me, The People's Assembly answers Tacoma’s need of a voice for underrepresented populations. We exist in a space made of intersecting identities that allow us to do nuanced work to combat anti-blackness. Combining allyship work with the necessary voices of Black folk, we engage with the community in a way that is often unseen. By creating spaces for the community to grow and learn together, we’re able to talk about police brutality, anti-blackness, and oppression in a way that safely creates discussion, and uplifts our often silenced voices. TPA is a local reminder that change is within our reach, and that we have the tools we need to make it happen.”
Lee Barker (he/him/his) is a black man that is a native of Tacoma, Washington and a graduate of The Evergreen State College. He currently serves young people in Tacoma as a middle school history teacher, advocates for father’s rights, volunteers weekly at the New Covenant Feeding Program, mentors youth in the community, and above all, is the proud father of Talea.
“To me ,the essence of The People’s Assembly is grounded in the movement for racial equity and the knowledge that victory is attained through genuine collaboration with the community to bring about positive change. Never in our lifetime has there been a more urgent call for Justice and Equality. I see the hopeful signs of change coming and know we cannot take our eyes off the road for even a moment, for the moment is right now. We’ve got a lot of work to do. The nation needs us, now, to change the unjust systems that have shackled black people for generations. I believe The People’s Assembly is the movement to inspire change in our community.”
Raphael Hartman (he, him, his) is a first generation Chechen/Brazilian born and raised in Tacoma. As someone who has experienced homelessness for six years, he is passionate about breaking down barriers to safe housing and health care for those that are marginalized in our community, especially people of color and queer people of color. Over the past three years Raphael has worked with Pierce County and City of Tacoma to create Pierce County's first youth shelter, and currently works at Associated Ministries as a housing specialist, working with families and individuals who are impacted by homelessness. Raphael believes that it is important to help create opportunities for those that struggle the most, and actively works to bring knowledge to the general public on the true narratives of people of color, and queer people of color in order to eliminate barriers that they face.
“To me, The People's Assembly is about building community and relationships by creating shared spaces to learn about, and dismantle injustices that are fueled by racism and white supremacy. To me, the word relationship means to be completely united without any type of division, and that can be hard to create when we are divided by race, religion, class, etc. On top of that, most people are busy chasing their own personal ambitions and achievements with no care for others; this also makes it hard to create community and relationships. The People's Assembly holds spaces for relationships to grow for communities that face turmoil, hatred, and destruction from anti-blackness and white supremacy by observing the truth, and knowing there is possibility for change.”
Elise Doney (she/her/hers) has a passion for supporting young people in exploring, finding, and building their strength and power to thrive. For nearly ten years, she has worked in a variety of educational capacities to support connected learning in areas of environmental justice, media and digital literacy, civic engagement, job readiness, and advocacy.
After completing her Masters of Library & Information Science at the University of Washington, Elise has pursued a career in public libraries. In her current role as a teen services librarian with the Pierce County Library System, she works to build equitable access to information and safe spaces for free exploration, discovery, and expression. She supports Pierce County young people in seeking knowledge, navigating multiple literacies, and engaging in community.
“As a white middle-class queer woman, I recognize that racist systems are designed to uphold the ideology of white supremacy. If we remain silent in the face of injustice, or claim ‘neutrality,’ we continue to benefit from and perpetuate racialized violence and oppression. We have to ask ourselves: what are we willing to give up in order to undo racism?
I believe that it is my responsibility to put my body on the line and take actions that have a personal cost to support anti-racist work and dismantle white supremacy. I hope to educate, agitate, and motivate my own white community to move beyond comfort, control, and complacency towards accountable action.
To me, The People’s Assembly is a space of radical imagination. We resist the dehumanization, profound isolation, and intergenerational violence enacted by systems of oppression rooted in anti-blackness and white supremacy. Instead, we imagine joy, connection, healing, and justice. We imagine and we get to work.”
Thy Nguyễn (she/her/hers) is a queer, first generation Vietnamese immigrant, spoken word artist, and a resident of Tacoma. During the day, Thy works at the YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish as a Grants/Data/Operations Manager; during the evening, she supports peer-led healing for teens experiencing grief and holds spaces for creative resistance and expression in the community; and during the night, she writes songs and dreams of ways to build towards a freer, just world.
“To me, The People's Assembly’s mission means that we commit ourselves alongside our community members to create, to heal, and to mobilize The People’s power in order to shift institutions and cultures which are responsible for anti-Black racism and intersecting oppressions. The spirit of our work is rooted in the intention to heal communal grief over lost land and lives, which is not possible without intentionally holding spaces for storytelling, bearing witness, and relationship-building, without centering marginalized voices for policy and social change, and ultimately, without interrupting, through direct action and conversation, systems and ideas that we have been conditioned to accept as normal or necessary parts of our world order. I believe that the revolution of my generation is doing the work to do “The Work” and that my role is to nurture the soil from which our future generations will garden in our community’s persisting efforts for justice and liberation.”