Martina “Mick” Powell
Lives in Bridgeport, CT
Q. Can you tell us a little about your life path? What are you doing in your career and community right now and what lead you there?
A. I was born and raised in Bridgeport, CT, the largest and one of the poorest cities in the state. My younger brother, sister, and I were raised by three wonder women—my mother, my grandmother, and my great-aunt—and each of them has had an incredible impact on my life path. My mother taught me how to be selfless and how to love unconditionally. My grandmother taught me how to be genuine, “deliberate and afraid of nothing,” as Audre Lorde would say. And my great-aunt taught me how be unapologetic, always.
I grew up infatuated with and fascinated by words, their power, their poignancy, their inherent poetry. I loved reading the stories and experiences of others as much as I enjoyed writing my own. I think this love and captivation is what led me to study and ultimately obtain degrees in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Connecticut. In both programs, I focused on words, worlds, experiences, realities, and survivals. I found sustainable solidarities, dedicated collectives, and immense, radical love, all while remaining focused on and invested in the power of poetry.
Currently, I am completing a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at New Haven Reads, a community book bank and literacy tutoring center, so I spend my days surrounded by books, which is lovely. I am also an Associate Editor of the Emerging Feminisms section at The Feminist Wire. I’m in the process of applying to graduate school to obtain my Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, focusing on poetry.
Q. What does young women’s leadership mean to you?
A. To me, young women’s leadership means opportunity, progress, and chances to form new collectives with new people with a variety of identities. It means seeing women of color, queer women, trans and gender non-conforming/non-binary folks in leadership positions. It means spaces are transformed for genuine inclusion of those traditionally on the margins.
Q. Do you consider yourself a feminist? What does feminism mean to you?
A. Absolutely! I am a fat black queer femme hip hop feminist poet, so feminism, to me, is a dedication to the destruction of ALL forms of violence, it is a statement of cross-cultural, cross-continental solidarity, and it is a space for folks to come together to labor, learn, and love.
Q. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other young women, ages 18-35, about how to build their leadership skills or the importance of becoming a leader?
A. I would say, “trust your struggle”—every tough or trying thing that you are able to survive is a testament to your incredible strength and worth. I would also say/shout, “TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!” It is the most critical thing you can do and it is, most certainly, the key to unending success.
Young Women Rising celebrates one young woman each month by sharing their story here on our blog. If you know of a young woman between the ages of 18-35 that we should consider including please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.