As the largest member-led organization of formerly incarcerated and systems-involved survivors, what makes Sister Warriors special is all the incredible people who devote their time and energy toward building a society based on equity, transformative justice, the recognition of full human rights, and the protection of and access to basic needs for all. We want to celebrate the people who inspire us and give them their flowers, so we’ll be highlighting a different Sister Warrior every month.
This month, we’re shouting out Brooke Ervin, a co-founding member and one of our very first ambassadors. Brooke is a thoughtful, kind, and hard-working person whose understanding of injustice within the prison industrial complex runs deep. When speaking with her, her passion and empathy shines through. We are honored to work alongside Brooke in the fight for our collective freedom.
Can you please tell me what you remember about the founding days of Sister Warriors? What was going on politically, who was involved, what was the vibe? What drew you to Sister Warriors?
[I] remember thinking, at that time, was, “This is finally a chance for system-impacted women to have a seat at the table and have a voice around the hurtful and harmful conditions we have and still are being subjected to.” I finally got to sit in a space with other women who were just like me, who understood the things I was going through being someone systems-impacted. Most importantly, we understood and could relate to the barriers that we had to overcome and face transitioning back into society. The love we have for each other was so genuine and infectious. We could always come as our full selves with no judgment or expectation.
What was the work like back then?
It was super powerful. There were moments when I would mentor at-risk youth and adults impacted by the criminal justice system. In my role as a San Diego chapter lead, I organized and conducted education seminars, fundraisers, and community advocacy initiatives. I also facilitated workshops and classes called "Pathway to Freedom," empowering individuals to navigate their paths to a brighter future. I encouraged my community sisters to get activated and involved, guiding them and prepping them for legislative visits in the State Capitol and encouraging each and everyone of my sisters to understand their power.
Tell me about the work that you’re doing now.
I am transitioning out of the Community Coalition. I was there for almost four years. I began there as a team lead and outreach organizer. I played a pivotal role in campaigns such as Healthy Future CA, Prop 15, and the recall of then Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, pushing for positive change in the community. During the pandemic, I led a team that administered COVID-19 surveys, collecting over 4,000 responses in South LA to understand the pandemic's impact on the community.
I also made significant contributions to the United To House LA Campaign and Make LA Whole Campaign.
Recently, I embarked on a new chapter in my journey, serving as a Statewide Organizer at MHAction. In this role, I unite people on a national level, rallying them to safeguard and improve the affordability and quality of manufactured home communities. I will continue to make a significant impact as I elevate the voices of those in marginalized communities.
What are your plans or goals for the future - both on the short-term and long-term scales, whatever that means to you?
Literally, my passion is for the people!!! My plans, future, and goals include fighting for progress, fighting for equity and equality in all disinvested and marginalized communities, and liberating my people who are impacted by any forms of this cruel-ass system.
What advice would you give to aspiring Sister Warriors who haven’t quite taken the jump into activism or organizing yet?
There is beauty in your struggle. Never give up. Tell your story; help someone else tell their story. Empower people to know their inner strength and power that lies within them. Be bold, be courageous, and live in your passion.
Is there anything like a brand, song, podcast, or show that you’d recommend to other Sister Warriors?
One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou, and it’s about a butterfly: “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”