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Meet Bree Anderson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bree Anderson.

Hi Bree, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Growing up in a household with a single mother was very difficult. You see, My father went to prison while my mom was pregnant with me and one of the challenges I silently faced my whole life was thinking one day I would get a call saying my father died in prison. Every time I got off the phone with my dad, I think it traumatized me more because I always felt like it was going to be the last call I get from him. Daughters of fathers that are incarcerated face all their emotional challenges alone or seek the attention from other father figures. There was no mentor to support me while my father served his sentence, so most of the traumatic events that occurred in my life went unsaid because I was too afraid to share my issues with family members. The more I aged, I grew closer with my father and he guided me through my teenage years through the phone and through letters. Every time I thought about making a decision that could have badly impacted me, I thought about what would my father say if he knew about it, so I made sure I didn’t take away his parental rights by doing something I knew he wouldn’t approve of just because he’s not physically in my presence. It’s very important that daughters reconnect with their fathers because it makes a difference when she can open up to her father and not have to look for that love in other men. Many daughters who have incarcerated fathers are not aware that their fathers still have the ability to parent from behind bars.

Growing up in the project where I am from was normal for a child to forget about their father once they go to prison because our minds was trained to know that no one can afford a lawyer and there was no belief that convictions could or would be overturned. I can remember many times my mother and father both told me for years he would one day come home, but people outside my home always convinced me that it would never happen. Those doubts made me support him even more after going to his court dates and researching his case it was obvious that my father was wrongfully convicted.

Some of the barriers I faced growing up was trying to move forward in life knowing that my father’s parental rights was limited. Parental rights should not be taken away from a father because he is incarcerated! The father is the head and foundation of the household and when the father is absent the foundation is shaken; which causes the child to feel stranded in a mental and emotional development without having an initiative of center space to share their emotions with others who feel the same.

In most cases young women never recover from those missed relationships they never had a chance to build with their fathers and go on with their lives to have issues with trust, rejections and an unfulfillment of life purposes. I overcame my obstacles of being directly impacted by incarceration because I had a strong mother who I watched struggle my entire life paying bills with only one source of income. My mother sacrifices caused me to take the initiative to begin working at the age of 14 to help provide for my younger siblings, so I dealt with my trauma by writing all my problems in journals for years and shared them once I felt like I was pass the stages where I had trust issues, embarrassment and felt neglected. The world will never be able to bridge the gap of father-daughter relationships; if there’s no one to mentor/guide the daughter through life to help her navigate through life.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Growing up in New Orleans wasn’t easy! As a young girl, I watched my mother struggle to raise my siblings and I in low income housing. My mother had one minimum waged income- while my father was serving two life sentences in Angola due to wrongful conviction. Louisiana criminal justice system caused my dad to serve 23.5 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit and ripped my life apart for no reason.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Bree shared her story to over 100,000 people across the U.S. since her dad’s release from prison in 2015- due to wrongful conviction.

Bree Anderson is a native New Orleanian advocate, social entrepreneur and trauma expert in view of parental incarceration and her story has been featured on talk shows, panels, podcasts and news articles about how mass incarceration affects children. Her social experience led her to become a community leader by helping to eliminate race-based discrimination as a former committee member of the NAACP and actively serve as a member of Innocence Project New Orleans Young Professional Committee to defy society’s stereotype of children with incarcerated parents. Bree has been nominated for several awards in 2019 including Champion of Change and Forbes 30 under 30, Forbes Next 1000, Jason Williams DA Transition Team, Community Advisory Group Safety & Justice committee. As well as the Co-Founder of Daughters Beyond Incarceration, a non-profit geared towards enhancing the overall life of girls with incarcerated fathers.

I specialize in trauma in lieu of mass incarceration and what sets me apart is I Redefined Resilient.

What matters most to you?
What matters most to me is my family. My family is my rock, my family supports me, my family uplift me, my family keeps me going. Because of my family, I became more confident in who I am as a black woman in America.

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