Zimbabwe Davies is a Man on a Mission. He is determined to Build Bridges between his beloved community, Oakland and the Oakland Police Department. Davies is a Oakland Native who was born and raised in the streets of Oakland, CA.
Davies mother passed when he was a young teenager. When his mother passed away from kidney failure. Davies was 13-years-old, he and his older brother were placed into relative foster care with his maternal aunt in Reno, Nevada. Due to his experience being in foster care. Davies developed a passion for social justice and has become a advocate and mentor for foster youth who are vulnerable in his community.
Davies decided that he wanted to create the ultimate B-Ball event where he would use the event to help foster better relationships between youth and the Oakland Police Department. Davies held his first annual Building Bridges Basketball tournament where Oakland Police Department played basketball against Oakland Youth. In addition all youth who attended the event received free backpacks to help them start the school year on a positive note.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Davies to get a sense of what is driving him and the importance of this particular event.
Check out the interview below:
|TCK: What led you to create Building Bridges?
ZD: Seeing people that look like me experience police brutality effected me to the point that made me want to step up and do something. I saw the hurt feelings and outraged in my community. It made me want to create a platform that the community/police could be a part of to help create change. I went to the Eastmont police station and spoke with Assistant Active Chief Leronne Armstrong. We had a conversation about ways to bridge the gap. Once I shared the concept of building bridges. Chief Armstrong was on board to help support the change that is needed to build stronger community ties.
TCK: What do you want people to get from the event?
ZD: I want people to understand that we all have to be willing to be part of the change, that we want to see in our community. In order to restore hope in people, they must see examples of hope that will lead to change. We all have a hero inside of us, we just have to be uncomfortable to get in a comfortable space.
TCK: What are ways that the Oakland Police Department and young people can foster better relationships within the community?
ZD: As a community, we have to turn our passion in to action, we have to work towards solutions. Consistency is very important and if we take proactive steps as oppose to reactionary steps, then we can began to address the issues surrounding police brutality, racial profiling and implicit bias. We have to create events where we invite officers, so that they can understand our culture. For example, Kenzie Smith now has the BBQ events at Lake Merritt due to Barbeque Becky. Police could stop by and have conversations, which translates into understanding and having compassion for a culture of people who like to fellowship with food, hip hop music, and just pure fun.
TCK: What was challenging for you?
ZD: Getting people to understand that fostering a relationship with the police has to happen in order to see change. I have had conversations with so many people who just don’t want to be around police officers. They don’t think anything will change. As people we must try different methods, one of the main challenges is that the people want to be disconnected from the police which only creates more tension. The more people understand we have to connect with officers and our local government to seek change, we will see changes in the years to come.
TCK: What is next for you?
ZD: Community panels about (racial profiling, crime, and implicit bias) will be apart of the on-going efforts in building bridges. Being solution focused is the main goal and seeing outcomes that align with the safety, well-being, and interest of the community.
“To wish for change is easy, but to effect change takes great courage and willingness to lead” -Denisha Davies
Written and produced by Davies, and directed by photographer Alan Kimara Dixon, Enter a Challenger, Exit a Champion is now available for screenings, and on Vimeo. You can follow Davies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Ms. Culture Keeper-