Dascha Polanco plays incarcerated Latina character Dayanara Diaz on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, so it’s no wonder that the Dominican-American actress is doing what she can to help incarcerated women of color. It is estimated that women currently make up the fastest growing number of inmates at jails and, unfortunately, many of the women are black or Latinx. Most of these women are also mothers—which is where Polanco’s work comes in.
In an interview with VIBE, Polanco talked about her initiative to raise awareness for the mass incarceration of women, the reunification of families, and her recent visit to Hour Children, a non-profit organization based in Queens, New York, which “caters to helping incarcerated children and former convict mothers re-establish their lives with their children.”
Although she hopes that her activism will organically lead to a bigger movement, she told VIBE that the important thing right now is for her to lend her voice and “help Hour Children to bring to light to these real-life issues.” One of the misconceptions she sees people have is that society views those incarcerated in a “male dominated light” but the truth is that we have “mothers with families in the same situation and those cases are tough to battle.”
She also spoke about the power of bringing together communities and uniting for the greater good, helping incarcerated women of color and their children. She said:
“They have placed judgement to the side and have fought for them, and have helped these women start their lives again. They have provided hope to those who lost it at one point. I truly celebrate organizations like Delivering Good, who have the power muscle and join forces with smaller organizations like Hour Children. It’s all about uniting.”
It’s incredibly inspiring to see this Latina using her fame for good. From the Latinas who spoke up for the #MeToo movement to everyone doing their part to help DACA recipients, 2017 feels like a crucial time to get out there and do something to help your community. As Polanco said at the end of the interview, educational help is the first step: “Educating and sharing information goes a long way, and provide hope for their families and after they are released.”