“I am viewed as a female criminal from the ghetto. Many have said that I’m manipulative, because I show them my pretty face after I’ve committed many crimes. Everybody knows I’m not scared of doing time. They call me sweet and sour because I can be friendly and then the other side of me comes out. They say I’m just a product of Panorama City and in some ways I am, but not the way they think. I was born in my city and raised by my city. I was raised to go by loyalty and respect. Loyalty to myself and others and respect for myself and others. I was raised to move in silence and never be afraid of anything or anybody. I was raised to always stand up for me and my people. I am book smart and street smart. I am Rosa.”
We’d like to give a special thanks to Spirit Awakening, the organization that connected us with Rosa and her story. Spirit Awakening is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth and children in the juvenile justice system realize their spiritual identity. They use meditation, creative writing, improvisation and visual arts to build character and raise self-esteem one child at a time. They have spent the past 23 years teaching the unheard the power of positive and productive expression.