Your names/a little about yourself?
Assata Dela Cruz
I'm awful at describing myself. Basically, somewhere between Proverbs 31 and Tupac, there's me.
What do you do?
That's such a loaded question. Haha. When my mum told me growing up that I could be anything I wanted to be, I took that as EVERYTHING I wanted to be.
I scream loudly and pass the mic so that other "voiceless" can have a voice through my activism. I write words and take pictures. I spent most of my adult life doing public relations and management for musicians but a few years ago I expanded into all forms of entertainment and non-profits.
Why did you get into that?
Activism began with me feeling silenced and wanting to have a voice, which I felt I couldn't have without shouting from the front lines. Then I became aware of others who felt like me and noticed a trend of people "speaking for the voiceless". It became my sole purpose to create spaces for the voiceless/marginalized to speak for themselves.
Honestly, I got into everything else because I wanted to take what I love (the arts) and be able to somehow survive and take care of my people in a capitalist society.
How did you get it started?
I went to college for Journalism and Communication, which is where I ended up diving into an internship that really set the tone for my career. I ended up dropping out after two years and started Band Aid Records, a music management and marketing company. For six years I got to tour, photograph, manage, etc the people I feel are really going to change the world: musicians. It was the greatest season of my life.
As a woman of color, I feel as though activism is just in my DNA. We come out of the womb fighting for our right to take up space. I was thirteen years old when I went to my first protest. It was against the Iraq war and there were maybe ten of us there. A year later I helped organize a LGBTQ related protest with some friends. Everything just continued to grow from there.
Name 3 words to describe you best?
I'm always evolving so there's never been three words or anything that just describes me always. I'm super passionate about Danielle Laporte's "Desire Map". I do it every year. Basically, you pick three to five things you want to feel and you build your life around feeling them. Those are your core desired feelings, the words to best describe you and your intentions, I suppose. As I said though, they're always evolving, for me at least. My three for this season of my life are: shakti, grateful, oceans (meaning to embody the lyrics of the song by Hillsong).
Which females influence you the most?
It seems cliche but my mum is the reason I do everything so she's the most influential person in my life. As I'm transitioning into the next season in my life, I'm also very influenced by my best friend, Emily, as she quite successfully juggles being a mum and wife while having a career. Other than those two I'm influenced and encouraged daily by Angela Davis, Linda Sarsour, Mother Teresa (though I do recognize she's very complex which manifested into many problematic behaviors), Beyoncé (say what you will about her but she epitomizes #BLACKGIRLMAGIC), Alyssa + Lauren + Rebecca Barlow, Assata Shakur, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Suheir Hammad, Alicia Garza, Patrice Cullors, Opal Tometi, Johnetta Elzie, Angela and other women involved with Take 'Em Down Nola and so many others because YAY WOMAN POWER!!
What struggles have you over come and how?
I've been in recovery for seven and a half years for a drug addiction while also battling a mental illness and trying to survive three chronic physical illnesses. Some days are better than others. I think what helps me get through it each day is being surrounded by community, mostly online. I never feel too alone anymore. Having a tribe is so important.
How do you stay positive and focused?
I'm so rooted in prayer. I stop five times a day to get on my knees and give praise. It really keeps me centered and reminds me why I'm doing this and where my strength comes from. I do yoga almost everyday as well. I've got my people, my tribe, my comrades.. they make sure I'm always focused and also keep my spirits up. Self care is SO important.. I get my nails done and a cookie (actually, three if we're being honest) once a week.
My boyfriend and I run our local Food Not Bombs group. Seeing the community we're feeding and developing relationships with them keeps me the most focused. Putting names and faces to why I'm fighting so hard really gets me out of bed each day.
Any words of advice for future girl bosses following in your footsteps?
Be loud. Be unapologetic. Know you have a right to take up space and exist anywhere. BUT also for the sake of self care be sure to spend time in spaces where you see yourself represented.
Don't be afraid to evolve. This seems so simple but it took me until recent years to become okay with this. Many of my beliefs in politics, business, everything have changed the more I experienced life and that's okay. Don't keep yourself in a box.
What is one quote you stand by
"It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains."
"If you don't love yourself, how in the [heck] you gonna love somebody else?"