Conversation with Leaders: Today, we've invited the 2022 Mayoral Candidate of Inglewood, CA Fredrisha "Sha" Dixon to discuss what it means to be a public servant.
Q 1: You studied Broadcast Journalism in college and worked in the entertainment industry as an actor and television producer before deciding to engage in public service work. What motivated you to switch gears and study law and run for elected office?
Fredrisha "Sha" Dixon: It started with the murder of 17-year-old Jordan Dunn, then the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Being a single mother of a Black male child, those killings shook me to my core because they hit so close to home, and then in 2014, when Mike Brown was killed by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, I became completely activated. It was at that point that I realized I was not passionate about working in television but instead was passionate about fighting for my people and community.
Q 2: What are the things you considered before running for office? Were there any societal and individual barriers that you identified and tackled along the way?
Fredrisha "Sha" Dixon: Before making the decision to run for Mayor I considered how big of responsibility I would have as Mayor. I sat and reflected on whether or not I had the time and capacity to serve my community and the answer was yes. I considered all of the negative things that could potentially be done to me or said about me by my competitor. I considered whether or not I was strong enough to push through, despite potential sabotage, libel, and slander, and the answer was, absolutely! Most importantly, I sat down and strategized around the issues we’re facing in Inglewood and wrote plans to resolve said issues.
I did a ton of research on our city. I started with reading the City of Inglewood’s Charter and then began to go over past budgets. I also dove in and watched every past City Council Meeting I could find. I researched our population, demographics, income data, cost of living in Inglewood, and the patterns of change. I also sat and talked to every elected and appointed official, past and present, that would talk to me. Through those conversations, I was able to get a better understanding of the campaign process and what me being elected Mayor of Inglewood would look like.
I have always had the passion and desire to serve my community so that alone pushed and continues to push me forward.
Q 3: Do you think it’s important for more women and younger generations from various backgrounds and experiences to consider running for public office? What would you say to people who want to run for office but are afraid to take the first step?
Fredrisha "Sha" Dixon: I absolutely think it is important for more women and younger generations to run for public office. As a Black American woman, only 2 generations removed from chattel slavery, I see huge importance for those of us who are descendants of Black people who were enslaved in America to get involved in government and the legislative process.
People in positions of power here in America have utilized legislation and the judicial system to oppress, discriminate against, and classify Black Americans as non-human. They have utilized these tools to lock us out of every market in America, including the financial market. Now that we have the ability to participate in government and the law-making process, I believe we must get involved so that we can not only write laws that will benefit our community but also so that we govern ourselves and be able to dictate our own futures.
I grew up poor and lived in the projects so it is one of my goals to show young girls and women from similar backgrounds that where they are from does not dictate where they can go in life. I want to show them that being born poor is not an indicator of the progress they're capable of making in life. It is important for me to help develop the next leaders of our community because I believe that we deserve the opportunity to govern ourselves and be self-sufficient.
The advice I would give to anyone who wants to run for office but is afraid is to just do it! If you love your community and are dissatisfied with the way it is being run then it is your duty to do something about it. We simply can not afford to be paralyzed by fear when it comes to the well-being and progress of our people. I always remember the fact that I am standing on the shoulders of my ancestors and all of the freedom fighters t