Bella BAHHS (Black Ancestors Here Healing Society) is a 2017 Soros Justice Fellow and Architect of Community Construction at The Decarceration Collective, an anti-carceral law firm and consultancy. For Bella, privilege didn’t come cheaply or nicely packaged. Bella knows firsthand how prison affects families. Both of her parents were once in prison, leaving her in her grandmother’s care. As a granddaughter of the Great Migration, Bella BAHHS grew up on Chicago’s west side and studied corporate communication and business administration at Dominican University. As a raptivist, movement strategist and organizer, Bella BAHHS advocates for the fundamental right for people to breathe and exist. Her work focuses on why disenfranchised spaces become systematically overcrowded, overcharged, overpoliced, underfunded and undereducated.
Galvanized by Chicago teen LaQuan McDonald’s police murder and subsequent cover-up in 2015, Bella BAHHS and the #LetUsBreatheCollective led a campaign against police abuse, torture and executions. She co-organized 2016’s Freedom Square Occupation – a 41 day occupation of a Chicago police precinct notorious for kidnapping and forcing confessions from Black and Brown Chicagoans. National media outlets covered the Freedom Square occupation, finding Black women greeting and educating community members, deescalating conflicts, preparing communal meals, mentoring Black children, organizing art and community beautification projects, cleaning the encampment and strategizing to build a more liberated future. Bella’s 2017 Soros Justice project will build Sister Survivor, a group designed to support young black women organizing to mitigate the impact of the criminal justice system on their lives.
FOR THE ANCESTORS
we don't die. we multiply. reincarnate lost lives. open up our hearts and let them live inside. our arteries are cavalry. vessels for refugees. souls forced out of homes. bodies are a broken lease. middle finger half of a broken peace. been fuck police since they declared war on people look like me. 92' locked daddy in the penitentiary. '93 gave birth to me. mama got post traumatic stress d. pump our stomachs with drugs when a belly rub is all we need. a lot more love, medicinal weed, some herbal tea and an accurate account of our ancestral history. blk ancestors here healing society. BAHHS. not bars. prisons obsolete. cut carceral culture. construct community. build a brave new world, and rupture the spell of ideology. if everything we're forced to accept is false, think of all the possibilities. we're as boundless as our creativity. we're limitless.