Photo by Pete Shaw
A historian at heart, reporter by (w)right, rebel by reason, Walidah Imarisha is an educator, writer, public scholar, and poet.
She is the editor of two anthologies, Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements (AK Press/IAS, Spring 2015) and Another World is Possible (Subway Press, 2002). She is the author of the nonfiction book focused on criminal justice issues, Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison and Redemption (AK Press/IAS, 2016) and the poetry collection Scars/Stars (Drapetomedia, 2013). She has been nominated for Oregon's Poet Laureate, received the first Barry Lopez Fellowship at Playa in 2016, and was awarded one of two 2015 James Tiptree Jr. Fellowships for her science fiction writing that explores the intersections of identities.
Walidah has taught in Portland State University's Black Studies Department, Oregon State University's Women Gender Sexuality Studies Department, and Southern New Hampshire University's English Department. For the past six years, she has presented all over Oregon as a public scholar with Oregon Humanities' Conversation Project on topics such as Oregon Black history, alternatives to incarceration, and the history of hip hop.
Walidah has facilitated poetry and journalism workshops third grade to twelfth, in community centers, youth detention facilities, and women’s prisons. She has toured the country several times performing, lecturing and challenging, and has shared the stage with folks as different as Angela Davis, Cornel West, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Kenny Muhammad of the Roots, Chuck D, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Robin D.G. Kelley, Umar bin Hassan from The Last Poets, Boots Riley, Saul Williams, Ani DiFranco, John Irving, dead prez, Rebecca Solnit, and Yuri Kochiyama.
Walidah was one half of the poetry duo Good Sista/Bad Sista, and has appeared on Puerto Punx band Ricanstruction’s second album Love and Revolution. Her writing has been featured in The Future of Us: An Anthology, Total Chaos: The Art And Aesthetics of Hip Hop, Artists Against Police Brutality, A Comic Anthology, Letters From Young Activists, Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution,The Quotable Rebel, Near Kin: A Collection of Words and Art Inspired by Octavia Butler, Joe Strummer: Punk Rock Warlord, Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, Life During Wartime: Resisting Counterinsurgency, and Rubicon: Words and Art Inspired by Oscar Wilde's De Profundis.
One of the founders and first editor of the political hip hop publication AWOL Magazine, Walidah also served on the editorial board for the national Left Turn Magazine. She is the director and co-producer of the Katrina documentary Finding Common Ground in New Orleans.
Walidah spent six years on the board of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, and helped to found the the Human Rights Coalition, a group of prisoners’ families and former prisoners with three chapters in Pennsylvania.