Tauheedah Shakur is a 26-year-old Black, Muslim woman with roots in South Central that run three generations deep. At her young age, she is a published poet and accomplished community organizer with Youth Justice Coalition and Cage-Free Cannabis. From early on, Tauheedah has leaned into her poetry as a creative outlet to help her cope with the uncertainty of growing up in foster care, as well as an advocacy tool to fight systems of oppression.
While in middle school, at the young age of 13, Tauheedah began her organizing journey as she advocated for representation that expands the narrative of Black and Brown people in history books beyond stories of suffering. Later, at Crenshaw High School, she witnessed the disparities between her school and those in more affluent neighborhoods. When Tauhueedh realized that her school had more police on campus than counselors, it sparked her lifelong mission to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline along with policies that criminalize the Black community.
Today, Tauheedah works at Cage-Free Cannabis, where she connects individuals to expungement clinics and promotes policy change that holds cannabis companies accountable. Through her work at the Youth Justice Coalition, a local nonprofit whose mission is to challenge mass incarceration, Tauheedah focuses on youth communal rights and works toward ensuring that youth of color play a leadership role in organizing strategies. Tauheedah’s advocacy work is partly fueled by her own father’s incarceration at a young age, as she believes her father’s trajectory would have been different if he had access to the same resources.
Tauheedah utilizes her poetic prowess to communicate about the complex issues that she organizes around. Recently, Tauheedah worked with Project Knucklehead to publish her poems in the book, Hide and Seek, which is intended as a tool to incite conversations within families and communities around mental health, Islamophobia, sexism, racism, and sexual violence. Each poem is accompanied by drawings by women of color from throughout Los Angeles, including her own mother. In it, she highlights that after being ignored as a Black woman, she has learned to be explicit on how someone can show their support. Despite her trials and tribulations, Tauheedah recognizes that being a young black woman also comes with beautiful creativity. Tauheedah embodies South Central’s resilience, creativity, and unshakable joy.