Although it has been quite a few weeks since we have seen footage of protests sweep across our timelines and newsfeeds, rest assured that Black Lives STILL Matter and the protests are continuing across the country. Since the murder of George Floyd, the country collectively has been protesting for over three months.
I decided to sit down with activist Mercy Baez, a community activist and artist, who is currently planning her first march on August 22nd. She discusses why she fights for justice, and what activism means for her and her community.
Can you tell me what led you to activism work?
What led to activism work lies a mystery, between my family’s history and my passion for being the voice for the voiceless and very adamant about making change. Anthony Baez was my cousin, who was murdered by the police in a choke hold in 1994. I am the first generation from my family’s case to now join the Justice Committee and become more involved in fighting for justice for our people. Today, I am involved in work surrounding making change in our communities of Black and brown people within education, living situations, our economy, etc.
In 2015, I experienced my first domestic violence situation which led me to self healing and developing a women’s- based movement called “The Rebirth of a Woman LLC” which was founded in 2016. I found my healing through speaking my truth and over time it was clear to me how my experiences were shared amongst other survivors of trauma.
What societal issues are you the most passionate about?
I am most passionate about educating, uplifting and providing the opportunities for our community of people. I need to see more support and education around societal issues like domestic violence, sexual abuse and other mental health related traumas. More funding for housing and its processes. More funding and knowledgable support for proper black history truth to be put in placement for curriculums world wide, and financial literacy to become mandatory to learn and participate in community based projects to invest in and rebuild poverty neighborhoods.
What does activism mean to you?
My activism is what saves my life and reassures change for us all, as well as reassurance that my daughter will be safe, and continuing this legacy. Being ACTIVE with footwork and getting seats in office to enforce the voice of US. Activism work means never forgetting or getting distracted from your purpose.
How did the murder of George Floyd and the ongoing protests impact your work?
The murder of George Floyd and the ongoing protests impacted my work very greatly as a whole. I wear so many different kinds of hats, and every walk I have including my artistry, my activism work, being a mother, my everyday private life, all changed its perception of how I will now live from here on out. This caused the Revolution! I am grateful to be alive and young to be apart of this active work needed during these times, PROUD to contribute to the shift of change.
Who inspires you?
My daughter inspires me. Every time I get a chance to look at her and spend time with her, it helps me realize and remember my purpose. She helps push me to get the work done. She helps me remember God’s touch of grace needed to continue the shift, and spread love.
Can you tell me a bit about your nonprofit? What was the inspiration behind starting the organization?
My woman empowerment based movement “The Rebirth of A Woman” is now an LLC, founded in 2016 in NYC. The movement started after my first domestic violence experience in 2015, which led me to experience physical and mental difficulties and highly affected me and my life as a performer and mother. After about 4/5 months after the incident is when I began performing nonstop to share my story and raise awareness on domestic violence and sexual abuse.
A year later I started my movement that has monthly empowerment events and circles, a summer intensive talk show/live Show, and a domestic violence social campaign that was able to extend to Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta. I was able to have a program set in Rikers Island for 3 years in the school system for both high school and middle school kids, and reaching thousands of communities of people.
What do you hope to achieve through your activism work?
I hope, through my activism work I can continue to spread God’s love and help contribute to making actual change for us and our younger generations. I would hope we can diminish the white supremacy and systemic racism, generational curses. I hope to educate, inspire and uplift women girls to recognize their power in our world and to be able to spark a light bulb in enough spaces to continue the work. I would hope to see reparations.
How do you practice self care?
I practice self care through building my connection with God and learning what it means to walk with God in all that I do to reflect his Love to this world. I take self care very seriously, with meditation, yoga and dance therapy, journaling and writing (spoken word pieces, etc) and performing.