Who is the womyn with a mission to let them flourish?
Founder of Letthemflourish, Etecia Brown, is an advocate and community organizer. She is a mentor. She is a student. She is an educator. She is a doula. She is an artist. She is a daughter and an older sister. She is a 4th generation San Francisco resident of Bayview Hunterspoint. She is a Black queer womyn dedicated to empowering leaders and healers through radicalizing the ways in which we care for our community and ourselves. 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 Bayview Hunterspoint has directly impacted Etecia’s family health history. After losing several family members to cancer Etecia began to think critically about the intersectional ways that racism, disparities in health, intergenerational trauma, and lack of access 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 boldly envisions what it looks 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. As a Sociology undergraduate, Etecia's research focused on the impacts of poverty on mental health, the psychosocial effect of gentrification on communities of color and the correlation between high social capital and collective efficacy as a way to leverage community resources. Using a feminist epistemology approach Etecia was able to conduct in-depth interviews to gain insight into the experience of students and community members. Etecia analyzed collected data to inform academic institutions on policies that will help better prepare students, as well as inform community programs of the ways they can better serve the people where they’re established. Etecia has had the honor of being recognized nationally for her community work, being featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, and others. 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-indictment of the officers who murdered Mike Brown Jr. on December 13th 2014 Etecia organized Millions March San Francisco and Millions March Oakland 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”. Etecia's vision for these marches was to provide a peaceful 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 reignite collaborative organizing efforts in the Bay Area. In recognition of Etecia's organizing efforts she was featured in San Francisco Magazine in a spread called, “Saluting 37 Leaders of Social Change”. 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 currently unplugged from the movement for Black liberation. Black Joy is revolutionary.
Etecia has curated a life centered around social justice. Her work as a reproductive justice advocate has helped her to to reimagine the health care system. Her intentions are to decolonize birthing in the U.S. as well as empower Birthers to stand in their power as Creators. Understanding indigenous technologies of mothering is key for any society to flourish and Etecia believes these tools have to be holistically retaught in marginalized communities. Etecia is currently studying traditional 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 most recently began a Ph.D. program in Medical Sociology at Howard University to conduct research that assesses the benefits and impacts of indigenous spiritual practices within a contemporary healthcare framework as a reliable method for preventing stress related diseases in Black women. In a constant process of sharpening her skills and develop the tools necessary to create a sustainable transformative ecosystem she plans to addresses the healthcare needs of her community and communities similar to hers across the country and worldwide.