We're proud to introduce COHI's current Activist in Residence! Meet ShiShi Rose- writer, activist, and public speaker. Shishi is currently womanning our social media outreach and leveraging her talent and expertise to help spread COHI's mission. Read her in-depth interview below, and prepare to feel inspired.
You're based in NYC now, but what's your backstory? Where do you call home?
I call New York home. I grew up in California but New York is the only place I've ever lived that made me happy. As time goes on it's becoming more of a work source for me, but even when I move on from it one day it will always be special to me because it helped me understand myself.
Was there a defining moment in your life when you decided to embark on your activism?
I think I've always been a feminist. I've been questioning things and demanding equality since I was a little kid, but when I lived in California I got to work with my therapist and the other members of the local rape crisis center. I helped train other therapists with teaching videos, I helped them do the Clothesline Project which is an event for survivors, a few other rallies, I helped with their prep for the Vagina Monologues, and got to work directly with other victims throughout the entire process. It not only helped my own healing but it fueled my activism more than anything else.
Now since moving to New York, my main focus is race and women's rights. Working directly in victims spaces became too hard but I will always be grateful for the time I spent with them and what I was about to learn about women and myself during that time.
My next adventure coming soon is doula training and my goal is to be able to do doula work in The Rikers women's prison.
We know you're incredibly busy- can you share the list of your current big projects and the role you play?
I am currently on the social media team for the Women's March on Washington which is only 9 days away! Basically my job is to get tons of content out surrounding the March and also make sure everything we do reflects the people affected most. Meaning my job is to make sure intersectionality is the main focus and that the work and voices of women of color is top priority. I also do tons of public speaking and host events. I am speaking at an event every week till mid February when I go to Norway to speak at a conference about race.
I also have my social media page where I am constantly educating people. I get between 100-200 Direct Messages a week from people needing my help. I can't answer all but I do what I can. I also attend a lot of political events, as I did through most of the election. I feel like I've kind of sacrificed myself to be the Black woman that speaks out against things because I knew if I wasn't not a lot would get accomplished in a room full of 100 people merely praising Hillary Clinton, yet not demanding she be better. Now that she lost it's even more important for me to be in those rooms educating people and making them understand their roles as white people claiming to be allies to marginalized people. We are headed into dark times and we need unity.
People try to harness the power of social media, oftentimes without success. How have you found success in channeling and sharing your message over social media?
I found that people respond best to feeling like they are part of something. Since the beginning I have always had conversations with them. It's harder now as my social media grows but I like answering their questions. It helps me see direct results from the work I do.
How do you cope with the amount of negative attention your honesty and activism drives?
I don't really, I'm sure it is affecting some inner part of me more than I realize. But I've always made bad or awkward situations funny. So I try to just laugh it off. It can get scary especially when I get death threats. But if I sit too long in the feelings it brings up I wouldn't accomplish anything. It may feel vicious because social media allows hate to feel bigger but it's always been there. I try to channel the energy of previous revolutionaries. What the women and men of color in the past were able to accomplish despite backlash and hate is amazing and I hope I can be half as successful in activism.
In your position as Activist in Residence, what do you hope to achieve with COHI?
I just hope as many people as possible find out about COHI, everyone should know about the amazing work everyone is doing but also the people that are being helped because of the work. There is not enough emphasis on international tragedy. Americans tend to focus too much on themselves. But the rest of the word needs our support too.