Public Service, Racial Equity, & Other Things

Part of our blog series where our Summer Interns introduce themselves to our communities.

By Nicole Giles, Law Center Summer 2019 Intern

I am a 21 year old Black womxn and the youngest of two children, born and raised in the Bay Area. I graduated from UC Irvine in June 2018 with a double major in Business Economics and Social Policy & Public Service. My interests include philanthropy, policy, nonprofit work and critical race theory. 

While in college I organized political actions at a number of different conferences including the United States Student Association Conference in D.C. and the Students of Color Conference in Irvine. Additionally, as a member of the Black Student Union Demands Team, I helped put forth demands for police abolition on UC Irvine’s campus as a tool for both promoting political education and starting conversations surrounding what fundamental safety and equity looks like for Black students on campus.

I had the blessing of hearing about Sustainable Economies Law Center through an old colleague (shoutout to our Director of Operations, Sue!) who knew I was looking for enriching opportunities that will allow me to do work at the intersection of legal advocacy and public service during my gap year between undergrad and law school. My life has been characterized by my understanding of the structural symbiosis of different institutions in America and the way in which they all work harmoniously to uphold their function of being violent and anti-Black. I became acutely aware at a young age of the racial paradigm that blocks equitable access to resources and opportunities for people of color. This fueled my desire to be a part of spaces that would allow me to affect change as a public servant to those who fall victim to this paradigm. Now, I am passionate about the chance to be a part of an organization that is committed to the new economy and the radical opportunity it creates for socioeconomic equity.

While at the Law Centernight out for safety and liberation Ella Baker, I hope to expand the ways in which I serve my community and help empower Bay Area residents to change our community to one rooted in sustainability. The Law Center houses a group of people dedicated to doing transformative work and teaching communities how to use the tools that will allow a just transition into an economic system based in cooperatives rather than capitalism. I look forward to both learning about said tools and how to teach others the best way to use those tools. I also look forward to the opportunity to expand my legal knowledge and widen my exposure to the ways in which legal advocacy and education can radically transform communities.

My past experience in community service both in and out of the Bay Area has included interning at The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights as a Local Advocacy Intern where I helped organize Night Out for Safety & Liberation and at the East Bay Community Foundation where I was able to work with community members in West Oakland to make a proposal for the use of donor-advised funds in early childhood education investment. In undergrad, I did my qualitative research project on the effects of juvenile incarceration on the well-being of Black and Chicano male youth, a research project that I then used to advocate for prison abolition at every level. I also focused much of my time as a co-coordinator for the UCI Counseling Center’s Peer Educator program where we trained students on how to create and host workshops on different mental health topics and worked to eliminate stigma surrounding mental health in communities of color.

While at SELC this summer I will be working with both the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative and the East Oakland Neighborhood Initiative Program to do research on inclusionary zoning, community benefit districts, and nationwide community planning efforts. I am excited to say the least! When I am not in the office at the Law Center, I can be found either in SF working as a consultant at Northern California Grantmakers, at my study desk pouring over LSAT questions, or stretched out in my backyard with my nose buried in one of Baldwin’s works.

East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative

Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: