We are the answers
to the dream that was had
by each of our grandmothers.
These answers always fill us,
never leave us lacking
emotionally, financially, or physically.
GildaPapoose Collective is a Washington, DC-based, direct action and arts collective that seeks black liberation through the abolishment of prisons, police, and all forms of detention.
Our work is done at intersections of
Black girlhood and Black creation.
Our message, through visual
and performative storytelling.
GPC houses the DMV Bail Out Fund, and has expanded its efforts to include an arts fellowship program for the mothers released from jail through posted bail. Funds raised through our fiscal sponsorship helped pay for bail for eligible incarcerated people, a case worker for continued wrap-around support, a fellowship stipend, and an unrestricted emergency assistance fund.
The fellowship is a paid, part-time position which will focus on various aspects in theatre. Fellows will have an opportunity to pick and choose which particular aspects of theatre they are interested in learning more about and carrying out the responsibilities of the area chosen.
As Black people, the ubiquitous nature and devastating effects of anti-blackness in our country forces us to confront the multitude of perspectives of Black folx who are tackling poverty, sexism, racism, and people moving through life through the cross-hairs. We want to center and uplift the narratives that track our histories, form linkages to our legacies, and find strategies for surviving an unjust and murderous society.
Theater is a safe house - a space of liberation, a source of freedom, a container, a church, a salon, a barber shop, a kiki, the sanctuary. Black people have always used theatre to recall and more importantly pass down the stories of our people from generation to generation.
GildaPapoose Collective is exactly that - a reminder, and a retelling of who my mothers are and the right that I have to be. To that end, I envision leveraging theatre in the same fashion it has guided me and inviting the Black mamas that we bail out into a theater fellowship.
Over one hundred twenty years ago, my great great great grandmother had to purchase her freedom from her own father.
Later, she returned to purchase my great-great-great grandfather’s freedom as well.
On April 16, 1862 Black people were emancipated in Washington, D.C.
125 years later, on April 16, 1987, I was born.
It is clear to me that my inheritance is freedom.
With that weighing on my heart, last spring I collaborated with my comrades to establish the #FreeBlackMamasDMV, which is in direct connection with the National Bail Out lead by my dear friend, Southerners On New Ground, co-director Mary Hooks.
My great grandmother Hilda nicknamed my Mommie LeCora, Papoose, because when she was born and wrapped in a blanket, the story goes, she looked like a little Indian baby - the definition of a papoose. That name has stuck with my Mother her whole life. It was used so much so that she thought that was her given name until she went to elementary school.
This collective is named for my Grandmother and Mother because of the deep connection I feel to both of them.
Originally proposed by Southerners on New Ground, the National Mama’s Bail Out Day seeks to raise awareness about the human and financial costs of money bail and emphasize its impact on Black mothers and caregivers. Every day nearly 700,000 people are incarcerated solely because they can’t pay money bail, despite often never being charged for a crime. Eight in ten women in jail are mothers and many of the Black women serving pre-trial detention have been accused of minor drug and “public order” offenses that disproportionately target Black people.
In 2017, we were able to bail out 16 people through a crowdsource of $22K. This year we aim to maximize on the lessons learned and increase our impact by bailing out Black Mamas, offering paid theatre fellowships, and bringing more directly impacted people into the organizing work we are trying to build. We are seeking to provide more wrap-around services that offers each Mama support financially, emotionally, and mentally.