Meet Tiona…

It is helping others understand life from a different perspective in hopes that we stop fighting each other and come together. Unity is the answer to everything, the ultimate key to love and peace in hopes of mending our differences.

Incarcerated: 7

Housed: Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, New York

During my 26 years, I have come to realize what it is to love and to lose, what it is to grow and be stagnant. Every step of the way has shaped me into the woman I am today. I have learned from a young age what it feels like to have someone love me and then have them ripped from my life; leaving me to fend for myself as everyone around me abandons me.

I learned  just because you have parents. does not mean they have to love you, and their version of love might be quite different. 

I learned life is never what you expect and it will constantly surprise you. We may not understand our pain, struggles and suffering until later in life when things begin to fall into place or sometimes when it is too late. It is all the aches and heartbreaks that make you grow, which leads your heart to guide you in a different direction. 

I learned that what you hear or see as a child makes you believe certain values, and growing up and becoming one with yourself  makes you change those same beliefs. 

I learned  you might never see life the same as the person next to you, but you have to try to walk in their shoes in order to understand life differently. 

I learned to listen to my heart as it cries out in agony, because it is with love that we heal and heal others. 

I learned  even if you did nothing wrong, you will be viewed as if you are guilty because they lack the capability to analyze what is beneath the surface. 

I learned what it felt like to be my son’s first heartbreak when I received my 16-year prison sentence. 

I learned to survive in a jungle meant to destroy you and to find love in this strange place. 

I learned how all the evils of this world can consume you. 

I learned how to find myself while I watch others closely to divide the real from the fake, and to take heed of what they hide behind their masks and in their hearts.

I learned how to stop hating life, and how to start living it. We need to see we are not defined by our mistakes, because while they cannot be undone they show our willingness to get back and try again. 

I learned my passion is to free others from their mental imprisonments, and to live up to my life purpose. I want to spread love endlessly. 

I am learning to remind myself someone out there has it worse than me. While learning that even though we are all human beings, we are not looked at as such. Society creates these “norms” and labels and once someone does not fit in, they ‘X’ them out, alienating them. 

I am learning it is extremely difficult to be a woman and even harder to be a woman of color, that society expected me to fail because of the color of my skin. This may be ’The Land of The Free’ but every life born or migrated here has paid the price. 

I have learned to fear for my child every time I watch the news and see another black body lying on the ground at the hands of law enforcement. I know now it is those who are meant to help you that are often the ones who hurt you. 

I am learning our constitution continues to fail us, resulting in our growth being stunted. 

I am learning that while I am just an ordinary person, I want to make the best of my time here for both those around me as well as myself. It is helping others understand life from a different perspective in hopes that we stop fighting each other and come together. Unity is the answer to everything, the ultimate key to love and peace in hopes of mending our differences. Our world would be such a peaceful place if we thought of others, if everyone’s soul was inclined to help the next individual; I am learning to be thankful for today because tomorrow may never come. 

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