Deja Foxx: Young Person, Activist, Organizer, Future President, Badass
Just a year after I’d launched the empowerment campaign for GLO, I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a video “16 year old teen faces off with senator at town hall”. I clicked on the video and there stood Deja schooling Jeff Flake on Title X and Planned Parenthood. The video had gone viral. At that moment, I felt so inspired by the video and hearing what Deja said I decided to do more research into Planned Parenthood and access to birth control in America. Hong Kong has birth control sold in Watson or Mannings; America’s counterparts being CVS, Duane Reade, or Walgreens. I had no idea that in America birth control, a right that all women should have easy and free access to, was limited by politicians who were old, white, and male. Watching Deja’s video opened a whole door to me to become aware of these issues before I got to America to begin my academic journey. I could never guess that I’d have the chance to call Deja let alone attend the same school as her. She’s truly a badass.
Deja Foxx is a self described activist, organizer, and badass. Her journey with social justice has been lifelong, beginning with being born as a women of color to a low income background and single mother. Deja doesn’t separate activism and her life - they are one in the same.
She was, however, first inspired to take concrete action during her sophomore in highschool when she experienced firsthand the way abstinence only sex education and a lack of regulation around the subject disproportionately affected students of color, low income students, and independent students, students like herself. Recalling her health teacher’s words “You guys go to UHS. You already know this stuff.” as he breezed through a slide show on contraceptives, Deja still feels the anger she felt that day as she thought to herself “I don’t have parents at home, I don’t already know these things.” Turning her anger into action, Deja began organizing alongside Planned Parenthood to activate the power of her peers. After 6 months of lobbying the TUSD school board, primarily through the use of personal stories, Deja knew this is wasn’t just what she wanted to do, but what she had to do.
Scaling up her efforts, she began working on higher level officials to create change; eventually going viral for an exchange with her state senator, Jeff Flake. Deja began, "I just want to state some facts, I'm a young woman; you're a middle-aged man. I'm a person of color, and you're white. I come from a background of poverty, and I didn't always have parents to guide me through life; you come from privilege” leading up to the question everyone was wondering: what gives you the right to tell me what to do with my body? In this moment, Deja put words and a face to the lack of representation that what women and people of color across the country and throughout history have felt. She strongly believes that her success is rooted in her story and uplifting the stories of others.
Since then, Deja has expanded her activism to include movements that truly represent the intersectionality and multidimensional quality of her own identity. Deja is part of a team that founded the Reproductive Health Access Project at their local community health center. The group is composed of young people most affected by a growing gap in access to contraceptives such as teen moms, youth on their own, and people in group homes and the foster care system all with ages ranging 14-20. The composition of the groups leadership team is inspired by Deja’s own experiences struggling to find social justices spaces inclusive of her increased level of responsibility as an independent young person. Together, they have been able to find creative ways to make reproductive health care more accessible to people like them. Some of their unique strategies include providing ride shares to and from the clinic, not asking for documentation of any kind, and providing all of their STI and birth control services at no cost. In addition to this work, Deja has found creative strategies to raise awareness of child detention facilities in her city’s Tucson and organize young people on social media toward the Families Belong Together Movement. This work is particularly close to her heart as a first generation American.
Another movement Deja has found herself organizing around is gun violence. It seemed every lunch period of her senior year was consumed by organizing sessions leading to walk outs and marches, but it was all worth it to be a voice at the table advocating for a more holistic view of gun violence that includes wrongs committed by the state such as border militarization and police brutality. The work Deja engages in is as diverse as her own experience, but what always remains constant is her belief in the power of young people, their stories, and the value of their work.