On July 16, A New Way of Life partnered with the enFOLD Collective to showcase our Testif-i multimedia initiative through the Black–Still installation at the Craft Contemporary museum. Evie, a member of our 2022 Testif-i cohort, shared her powerful reentry story: the challenges she’s faced, the support she’s received, and the resilience she’s practiced while being true to herself on her healing journey.
Testif-i is a storytelling platform that highlights the lived experiences of formerly incarcerated women and their families, whose stories are often left unheard due to the systemic discrimination that they face. The initiative aims to change the narrative about mass incarceration while focusing on women’s experiences in particular. As the Sentencing Project notes, women are the fastest-growing segment of the prison population. In spite of this, stories about men tend to dominate national conversations, so Testif-i seeks to rectify that.
As a Testif-i participant, Evie expressed her passion for transforming the pain of her past into purpose. She vividly described the inhumane nature of her incarceration, during which she gave birth under degrading conditions. After incarceration, Evie made great strides in her personal and professional life. Evie became a resident at A New Way of Life, and then later accepted a position in our Administrative Department. She dreams of one day opening her own SAFE House, just like Ms. Susan Burton, whose story inspired her when she first read her memoir in prison.
The Black–Still installation at Craft Contemporary provided a tranquil space for sharing Evie’s story and the struggles that many formerly incarcerated women and their families face. With cool mist providing respite from a hot summer day, and with the walls drowning out the sounds of a bustling Los Angeles city street, the space invited reflection from the attendees.
This exhibit stands out as even more important in the context of a country that often does not offer any support for the 1.9 million women released from prisons and jails each year or their families. Community-based initiatives like Testif-I and Black–Still will continue to serve critical roles of providing marginalized communities with platforms for sharing their stories and changing unjust systems.