Teaching Artist

“You don’t need to be a voice for the voiceless. Just pass the mic.” —Su’ad Abdul Khabeer‏

Where Jess got her girl power: Jess is from a tribe of compassionate and intellectual warrior women from the west side of Chicago by way of Tennessee and Mississippi who continue to inspire her to think critically and speak out about about social injustices. Her mother, her aunties, her sisters, her nieces—and the men in her life are savvy to this whole gender equity thing. So she’s always had the support of people who believed in her possibilities and allowed her room to be who she is. That base of support allowed her to pursue other sources of power via creative writing and theatre, and now she is connected to other networks that keep her learning and growing, and now her girl power comes from reading other smart women and dialoguing with people who inspire her to keep herself on my toes, keep her critical and deliberate in how she includes folks and how she can use her platform to speak out.

How Jess has been staging the revolution: Her work is rooted in the intersections of race and gender, and how she can create a space for dialogue and creating. She stages the revolution by listening. She poses questions and listens to what the people impacted have to say. And then creating with them and laughing with them and making a community. There are so many systems that are rooted in sexism and racism, and she believes that it is a revolutionary act for women of color to practice self- and communal-love, support, and listening as well as critique institutional oppressions, speak out against injustice, and disrupt things we deem normal that are rooted in our silencing.

When Jess isn’t staging the revolution she’s probably reading. She just finished Swing Time by Zadie Smith, and she’s always open to recommendations! Also: when she’s not staging the revolution, she’s ordering too many books.

Hear more from Jessica by emailing