Sister Warrior Spotlight: Ursula Gomez

As the largest coalition of formerly and currently incarcerated and systems-impacted women and trans people of all genders, we know that the only way to create a more just and equitable society is by centering people whose expertise comes from their lived experience. Only we, who have been impacted by systems, understand what is needed to change them and what is best for our communities.


We’re shining the spotlight on sister warrior Ursula Gomez who is currently incarcerated at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) - not only because she’s an outstanding activist and friend - but also because, as an immigrant survivor of abuse, she needs our support to secure her freedom, right now. When she was only 19 years old, Ursula entered an abusive relationship with a man ten years her senior, who was involved with drugs and gangs. Devastatingly, this led to her being present while he committed a crime, and Ursula was held responsible in court. This draconian sentencing would not have been possible had this happened today. Her inspirational story of resilience and rehabilitation deserves to be shared.

We hope that her interview will inspire you to take action – call and email Governor Newsom to demand Ursula’s pardon, as an immigrant survivor of sexual and domestic violence.

How did you first get involved with Sister Warriors?
I got involved with Sister Warriors looking for a way to advocate for myself. I am an immigrant and have an active ICE hold. I knew it would take me having a lot of support to be able to fight it, so I started reaching out and looking to build a support network that would help guide me in the right direction.


How has being an immigrant impacted your activism?
It has made me come to see that while some issues may be harder than others, there is nothing we can't get relief from when we organize the right way. I was told I could not fight my immigration hold, but I watched the Eddie Zeng story on PBS and realized through activism I could achieve anything. 


If you don’t mind us digging a little deeper, I’d like to ask a bit about the circumstances around your incarceration. When you were still a teenager, you fell in love with an older man who had been involved in drugs and gangs. This led you to being present when your boyfriend was killed while attempting to rob a drug dealer. You were convicted of first-degree murder, despite the fact that you did not pull the trigger or even hurt anyone. This seems overwhelmingly cruelly unfair. What emotions come up for you when you think of that time? How do you cope with this injustice?
It is difficult to think about that time and feel positively about myself. I was such a broken girl who had honestly grown to hate myself at that time – making it easy for me to accept abuse and believe the lies my boyfriend told me about my worth. Coming from a home where domestic violence was the norm between my parents, I thought the abuse I was going through was "normal". I have had no choice but to keep moving forward despite my sentence. If the same crime happened today, I could not be charged this way. I move forward every day knowing that having gone through this struggle, I have found my purpose and love for advocacy. I don't see a time when I am not doing this work. 


What is one message that you’d like to share with folks outside?
I want to change the negative perspective people may have about immigrants. We are people looking for better opportunities not available where we fled from. No one makes the decision to leave their home, their entire family, knowing they will probably never see them again, because they have it good.


What advice would you give to aspiring Sister Warriors who haven’t quite taken the jump into activism or organizing yet?
Man! There's nothing more rewarding in this world than fighting for someone else. Advocacy is the truest form of being of service to another human being.


Is there anything like a brand, song, podcast, or show that you’d recommend to other Sister Warriors?
Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – because it teaches of the power we have within ourselves through manifestation.
Song: Unstoppable by Sia – because when we come to believe in ourselves that's what we are. 
Influencer: Jay Shetty – because he’s uplifting.