Meet Sierra Etes
Sierra Etes, native of Newark, New Jersey, is currently studying at Pomona College, as her academic excellence earned her a four year, full tuition scholarship to the prestigious institution. Her intended majors are Politics and Africana Studies, and in a time where equality feels impossible, she is devoted to unapologetically advocating for Black Womxn, as being an activist is essential to her strengths and personality. With her spirit of activism, she conducted research during the summer of 2020 with Roberto Sirvent, visiting Professor at Pomona College and Professor at Yale
University’s Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics. Her research entitled “Structural Racism and Black Women’s Mental Health'' is a part of Sirvent’s current book project called "Bioethics and Black Suffering" and is where she explored how state violence against Black people is a primary cause of mental health issues among Black Womxn, and how this issue requires serious attention from scholars of the bioethics and public health communities.
With her personal insight of being a Black, Queer, activist struggling with mental health and seeing the impact and lack of resources and support given to this community, she decided to continue her advocacy work, especially regarding her research, through direct mutual aid efforts for Black Womxn with her and Azé Williams’ Project, It’s in the Stars.
Amidst being a recipient of that incredible undergraduate research opportunity, she has also received awards from the Newark Unit of the NAACP, The Chad School Foundation, The North Jersey Deltas NJAC, Haitians Unified for
Development and Education, and many more, for her scholastic achievement and activism work both in and outside of her communities.
She seeks to continue her advocacy work through direct mutual aid and to extend her research in order to alleviate Black suffering that stems from structural racism and living under systems of domination.
She is now a published author with her debut poetry book, Sunkissed Child: Poetry in Black Life.
Her other talents include modeling, screenwriting and playing the flute.
Read about Sunkissed Child: Poetry in Black Life here.
Meet Azé Williams
Azé Williams, native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but raised in Newark, New Jersey, is currently a student at the George Washington University. Her intended field of study is Africana Studies and Fine Art, yet her passions remain rooted in community service work and helping society, one human being at a time. As a senior in high school she helped
After this, she continued her efforts with the Newark Students’ Union, helping empower students in the Newark Public School district to campaign for the betterment of their high school experience. And as the result of her excellence in both the academic and extra-curricular realms, she was also hired at Audible.com as a high school student at just 16 years old. Over the course of four years, she has worked in many departments, including the Events and Communications departments, and currently, the Content department.
The It’s in the Stars Project is a direct mutual aid effort that allows Azé and Sierra to not only sustain the support they give to family and friends who can’t support themselves due to their mental health illnesses, but also helps them spread their knowledge of what people in the Black Womxn community experience regarding the intersection between mental health and structural racism.
Azé is committed to this work, and is working toward the It’s in the Stars Project expanding to provide so many more Black Womxn direct mutual aid across the country and across the globe.
Her other talents include screenwriting, modeling and web-designing.
After using her platform on her website, justforblackgirls.com, during the uprisings in the summer of 2020 to help progress the movement and help be emotional, spiritual and mental support to her family and friends, she began her own personal reflection on how her mental health was affected from all the work she was doing.
After realizing her best friend was conducting research on the topic of how structural racism affects Black Womxn’s mental health, she decided to co-create the It’s in the Stars Project with Sierra Etes.