Rest In Peace Alexis Parsons
By Tamisha Walker
Alexis Parsons, a dedicated fellow of the Safe Return community, passed away on February 1, 2022 at her home in the Sycamore neighborhood of Antioch. She was 30 years old.
Words cannot begin to describe this tragic loss. We miss her so dearly and will always treasure the two and a half years she spent with us in the Safe Return family.
Alexis brought a strong joyful presence to our team. She was incredibly driven to her mission serving women and gender non-conforming people. We saw an incredible transformation in Alexis during her time with us and we are honored to have worked with her. We know that her light will continue to shine through our work and in the many lessons she shared with our family and the community.
Alexis started off as a leader with Safe Return doing work around the impact of trauma and incarceration on women, girl, and gender non-conforming folks, serving their special needs, and helping them with reentry. She expanded her scope to include voter education work, recognizing the importance of politics and policy in the fight for justice. As a fellow in the Richard Boyd Fellowship program, Alexis made huge strides in her personal and professional transformation and healed a great deal from the trauma and obstacles she faced.
She was a true organizer for her neighborhood, getting out and talking to people about what they wanted to see change and addressing issues of police violence in the community. She was a true advocate for justice.
Alexis was fun, kind, compassionate, bubbly, clear and direct with her words, honest, and thoughtful.
The cause of her death is part of a larger tragedy within society and among Black women in particular: she and her step son were victims of domestic violence.
Black women face more domestic violence because the people we interact with are more traumatized therefore more reactive, we have less access to resources that can help us escape dangerous situations and establish financial independence, and because society and the criminal legal system routinely ignore our cries for help.
Many sympathetic onlookers will focus on the woman’s actions: whether she could leave or not, how her upbringing may have been a contributing factor, whether she contacted authorities, and so forth when the real problem lies in how men are socialized from birth.
Patriarchy and toxic masculinity fuels so much violence against women: by gender roles assigned at birth and through no fault of their own, men are led to believe they are in the position of power by default. Unfortunately, many of them resort to domestic violence when they perceive that power is threatened in any way. It’s time to acknowledge this because Black women and all victims of partner violence deserve better.
I have so much faith in our community seeing them stand up to honor Alexis and prevent future tragedies from happening: actions for justice that have taken place include a March Against Violence in Antioch, an emergency town hall, and the coordination of a community crisis intervention fair.
We are incredibly grateful to our community for holding Alexis and her loved ones in your thoughts. Our society incarcerates trauma rather than treating trauma. These issues need to be addressed transparently and out in the open. We need to make people feel responsible by addressing these harms directly.
We at Safe Return will always do everything we can to empower our members and show them how to access the divine light that is already within them. It is more clear now than ever that we need to provide resources to protect victims of domestic violence.
Safe Return is currently working on a bystander intervention program: enabling people to act with the mentality of "if you see something, say something." Domestic violence is so pervasive and widespread that everyone needs to stand up and fight back. We welcome your collaboration in determining what resources we can provide to victims of domestic violence during this challenging time.
If you or anyone you know is facing domestic violence or abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.
This message was posted with permission from Tamisha Walker and the Safe Return Project. The RPA deeply respects Safe Return's work to build collective power of formerly incarcerated people in Richmond and beyond. Please consider making a donation to support Safe Return in their ongoing work to empower and increase the visibility of all those who have been impacted by the criminal legal system as a whole.