Who is the womyn with a mission to let them flourish?
Founder of Letthemflourish, Etecia Brown, is a fourth generation Bayview Hunterspoint resident of San Francisco. Bayview Hunterspoint is a historically Black community where many Black people migrated during the Great Migration period of the early 1940's searching for the warmth of other suns. These Black folk, including Etecia's great grandparents, worked in the old Navy Shipyard and industrial factories in the neighborhood. Today, Bayview Hunterspoint is home to a federally designated superfund site, over 25 underground petroleum storage tanks, a sewage treatment plant, and more than 100 Brownfield sites; giving this neighborhood some of the highest rates of cancer, asthma, and Black infant mortality rates in the Bay Area. Environmental racism in Bayvew Hunterspoint has directly impacted Etecia’s family health history: Etecia's great grandfather died of brain cancer, her great uncle died of brain cancer, her aunt died of breast cancer, as well as her cousin. Etecia’s grandmother has been a breast and cervical cancer survivor for over 20 years. In July of 2016, Etecia lost another aunt to breast cancer. Etecia’s family health history has pushed her to think critically about the intersectional ways that racism, disparities in health, intergenerational trauma, and lack of adequate education has impacted her community. Etecia Brown has always depended on her ancestors as a source of strength and guidance. Fascinated with Black history and the history of ancient indigenous civilizations, Etecia understood as a child the wonders and great wealth that was her People. Etecia began to think about what does it look like for her people, Black and Brown people, to not just survive, but to flourish.
Living in Hunterspoint also meant drug addiction, murder, trafficking and mental disease was apart of everyday sights. These toxic stresses were the catalyst that would lead to Etecia’s passion to create a better life for her community. Beginning in her freshman year of high school, in 2003 Etecia helped to organize health fairs with two community based organizations based in Oakland and San Francisco which gave marginalized communities of color access to mammograms, blood pressure and diabetes checks. These health fairs helped educate underserved folks in the community about nutrition, fitness, and disease prevention. Later in 2009 while in undergraduate school Etecia became the Site Director of Farms to Grow Inc., a non-profit organization based in Oakland, California that has established a long-term commitment to helping small Black farmers grow their franchise in a sustainable organic way as well as combat hunger and advocate for food justice in marginalized communities. In 2013 Etecia graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from St. Mary’s College of California. While at St. Mary's Etecia had the opportunity to engage in research that unpacked racial and gender inequality. Specifically, Etecia's research explored the shifts in the Black family structure in the early 21st century, the impact of gentrification on communities of color, as well as the effects of an individual's high social capital on their ability to leverage resources that can be utilized to develop, promote, and sustain progressive social change. After graduating, in the summer of 2013 Etecia helped to launch a pilot program for a Bay Area based non-profit organization, Nexgenegirls, whose mission is to empower and engage young women of color through science. That same year Etecia also is became a member of the Cancer Research Community Advisory Board at University of California San Francisco, one component of their mission is to decrease the health disparities in the Black community in San Francisco utilizing preventative practices and culturally competent approaches.
After the non-inditement of the officers who murdered Mike Brown Jr., Etecia organized Millions March San Francisco and Millions March Oakland on December 13th 2014. Surged by the glaring need for a peaceful healing space for the Black community to gather and express their grief during this "Black Lives Matter Movement” it was Etecia’s vision for these marches to provide a peaceful healing space for the community to come with their family. 3,000 people attended the march in San Francisco and 5,000 people attended the march in Oakland. This march became the catalyst to spark many collaborative organizing efforts in the Bay Area and begin to think about long term activism efforts that rebuild and reinvest in marginalized Black and Brown communities of the Bay Area. Etecia Brown is apart of an organizing coalition called the #Last3percent. These organizers are San Francisco native residents of the Bayview who formed a coalition to demand justice for Mario Woods, the young Black man who was shot by SFPD in November of 2015. The Last 3 Percent of Black San Francisco has expanded their organizing efforts to advocating for the reallocation of resources and power to underserved communities of color in San Francisco.
Understanding the urgent need to bring more young people together around issues of racial inequity in 2015 Etecia co-founded the Black Love Festival, a free community event designed to promote love as a form of radical transformation and healing in the Bayview. On July 16th 2016 Etecia gathered the Bay Area together again for Tribe City Fest, to address the need for the community to come together using collective efficacy as a form of liberation. The festival featured local Black and Brown artist, musicians, filmmakers, and craft and food vendors. Etecia's goal in her artivism work is to create more spaces for Black artistic expression and to reach a wider range of people who may be unplugged from the movement for Black liberation currently, because Black Joy is revolutionary.
Etecia is currently a certified Full Spectrum Doula with intentions to decolonize birthing in the U.S. as well as empower Birthers to stand in their power as Creators. Understanding the technology of mothering is key for any society to flourish and Etecia believes these methods have to be holistically retaught in marginalized Black communities. Etecia is currently studying indigenous West African traditional healing practices and herbalism. Etecia launched an organic boutique tea line as apart of the Letthemflourish brand February 28th 2017. It is Etecia's primary goal to share these natural methods for replenishing the spirit and nourishing the body with her community. In addition to being a healer, Etecia is in the process of raising funds to open a holistic health center and birthing temple in Bayview Hunterspoint dedicated to preserving and utilizing culture as a form of healing. Etecia plans to go back to university in 2018 for her Ph.D in Sociology so that she may continue her research on health disparities in the Black community and develop innovative practices that allow holistic health care and spiritual wellness to be the primary medicine that heals her community.