To understand the laws and regulations of our nation is to recognize the complexity of individual rights and social responsibility. As a lawyer, it is my responsibility to communicate the intricacies of the law by sharing important legal information. As a black woman, it is my responsibility to carry on our legacy of empowering our community through guidance and mentorship. It is our unique experiences as black women that shape our relationships and impact our society.


As a judicial law clerk at the Family Justice Center, I have heard first-hand accounts of abuse and  have come to realize that sexual assault, domestic abuse, and violent acts against women are not rare occurrences.  In fact, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that an estimated 1.3 million American women experience Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence (DV/IPV) each year. And while African-American women only make up 8% of the population, 22% of homicides that result from DV/IPV happen to African-American Women and 29% of all victimized women, making it one of the leading causes of death for African-American women ages 15 to 35. According to statistics, African-American women experience sexual assault and DV/IPV at disproportionate rates and have the highest rates of intra-racial violence against us than any other group. We as African-American women are also less likely to report or seek help when we are victimized.


My role within the legal system has provided me with insight and perspective on intimate relationship dynamics within family units across the Minneapolis metro area. A break down in the family structure has a hefty residual effect on all involved. I have become passionate about healing African-American families and breaking the cycle of abuse that has been passed down through generations of trauma.  As Ms. Black USA, I will specifically focus on three aspects of this issue: Protection, Prevention and Healing.


To increase protection, I plan to educate at-risk women on how to obtain Orders for Protections (OFPs) against their abusers. Studies show that OFPs combined with comprehensive safety plans create a barrier between the victim and the abuser. It is my mission to advocate for the development of additional legal interventions to alleviate the risk of future harm.  


Next, I will focus on prevention to stop abuse. By planning a 360 Degree Day of Healing, myself and other volunteers will to use the force of the #Metoo movement to expose the traumatic and significant effects of sexual abuse and domestic abuse and bring the issues to the top of mind for community leaders, legislators and educators.


Lastly, as a holistic health advocate, I will encourage African American women to use tools such as mediation, healthy eating, yoga, and journaling to deal with trauma, combat depression and provide new perspectives for healing. My mission as Ms. Black Minnesota is so much deeper than appearances and beautiful gowns. My mission is to become a guiding light to young black women, to provide safe spaces for healing, and advocate for unity and the enrichment of our community. 

​©2019 by Jamila Toussaint