bk0317_features_bk100_communityleaders_AshainaCumberbatch_DanielDorsa
A born organizer, Ashaina Cumberbatch has always had a knack for uniting people. As the Senior Director at New York Communities for Change, Cumberbatch brings people together and helps provide them with the tools they need to be empowered.
How/why did you become involved in your line of work?
I always had a passion for organizing events as a young person. I would plan social events, including parities, family retreats/reunions, anything that would gets folks together.  When a friend told me about the organization, it was the mission that grabbed me.  Empowering communities to work together to create and preserve safe blocks and homes. Helping communities to organize and rally around affordable housing, increasing minimum wages, eradicating social ills meshed well with my personality.
Tell us a little bit about your present work, the Cliffs Notes version of your day to day and what is at stake.
I am the Senior Director at New York Communities for Change. We organize in communities of color around equality and social justice. However, in the era of Trump, my day to day work is now focused on how we push back in a real way that will open the doors and hearts for people of color. What’s at stake? What is not at stake?  Most personal to me is my three boys, having to grow up in a world, or just our society, where we can no longer turn a blind eye to structural racism.  A society where our President elect does not need to hide his prejudices, does not have to display boundaries or pretend social equality as a value nor does he have to hide his distaste for anyone who does not support his political agenda. What will life look like for my sons and the sons of America? Our Communities are in distress.  People are being displaced daily.  Families are being ripped apart.  So when you ask what’s at stake, America is at stake. We are now living in a fascist world where racism is real and no longer taboo.
What do you find most fulling about your work
Helping people. I’m a very family oriented person so when I am doing my job, I do it with love. Just knowing that I can make a difference just by positively impacting one person’s view on life and on the movement, in my option, is very rewarding.
What is your proudest achievement with this work and what is your greatest challenge?
My proudest achievements were helping create history by take hundreds of fast food workers out on strike in 2012 to fight for better wage and respect in the work place and most recently, when we camped out for three days at Goldman Sachs’s New York Office, which was very empowering for me.  What I find to be most challenging beside the political environment and pushback, is being a women in a man’s world.
What do you hope changes or improves (or continues!) in your field in the future?I hope to improve the way America views people of color. To change the view of media that displays us as thieves and murders, and to increase awareness of the gifts and contributions of black and brown folks to America and the world. To promote unity of all people.
Who would you nominate for this list?
Renata Pumarol.
Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.
Photo by Daniel Dorsa.