Shawneshia Hoover

Being part of IMPACT and taking the Women of Color Basics class has had a lasting and profound influence on my sense of confidence and safety as I navigate the world as a larger bodied, black, queer, masculine of center woman. I navigate the world with many privileges and complex identities, but never once thought that a self defense class was for me. I always envisioned being ‘othered’ and feeling excluded so I never considered joining. 

Over the years, I have found that due to my gender expression, I am often expected to play the role of ‘protector’. I was once shoved by an ex partner in front of a man who had touched her inappropriately, and was told to protect her. I immediately felt my knees go weak as I recalled a number of similar situations where I felt threatened by men. I quickly resorted to my three cardinal sins of survival;  humor, charisma and flattery. I found myself showering this man with a number of compliments to ease the tension in the situation to allow for me to redirect my partner to safety. Later that night I felt disgusted with myself. I knew he would continue that behavior because he had the privilege and power to do so.  

Fortunately, I was connected to IMPACT by a good friend who has taken the class and also volunteered the following year as an assistant. However, I had just been laid off and had no extra finances. To my surprise, I was able to take the WOC Basics class on scholarship. I was thrilled! 

My experience with the three day intensive class was a restorative one. I was greeted by an array of women from all ethnicities and life experiences. This made me feel safe to fully engage in the class and I knew it was the right class for me! I was able to share my story and exercise full force on the mock assailants which was a liberating experience. I was not only able to tap into my physical power but most importantly the power of my voice. Additionally I was taught how to be a helpful bystander in the event that someone else was in danger. Lastly, I was afforded the opportunity to customize  an unconventional fight with my inner critic. I left the class feeling confident and with the ability to set boundaries as I navigate the world and current relationship. I have been able to reinvent who I am. 

I now have the opportunity to join the board and I would love to make this class accessible to the black and POC LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual) communities. 

Therefore I am pledging to raise $6,000 but I can’t do it alone. Please help me empower individuals like myself through the IMPACT Bay Area class. donate to this page  to support my campaign!!! 

Does your company match donations? Find out here!

All you need is the IMPACT Bay Area EIN #: 94-3123451 and address: PO Box 23831, Oakland, CA 94623

Shawneshia Hoover is a Licensed Marriage Family therapist who earned her MA in Community Mental Health Psychology at CIIS. She has over 7 years of experience in the clinical non-profit sector. She can be reached at
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