GRANT #423:

Unheard Voices

11/02/2020
These Moms Felt Like They'd Been Sentenced To Solitary, Until Now

He was a dancer, an actor, a singer – and to the shock of Tosha Smith Mills, her talented son Blake also became a convicted robber serving a lengthy sentence in a Texas prison. “I never thought in a million years he would go to prison,” she says. “When this happened, I couldn’t find anyone to identify with.”

Eventually that changed. Tosha wrote a book called “Momma I Should Have Listened: A Voice of Pain and Power,” telling the story of her family’s journey. Blake’s letters and poetry are included in the book. Tosha’s struggles seemed familiar to so many readers of her book, and they let her know how much it meant to them to hear someone else’s experience. “I never thought there were so many mothers that could relate,” she says.

Tosha felt she’d found the missing piece of a puzzle. “We hear about kids with incarcerated parents, but never mothers with incarcerated children. So I decided to travel and get their stories. I wanted to know, did they feel alone? They all felt like I did. We shared many commonalities, but no matter the race or the background, the one we shared the most was that a piece of our heart was missing and nobody understood. I wanted their voices to be heard,” says Tosha. So she’s working on a documentary series called Unheard Voices.

Our Awesome Without Borders grant will help to launch a website for Unheard Voices, a vital next step to spreading the word and finding more support.

Think Tosha’s exaggerating about the invisibility of parents of incarcerated people? Do an internet search. All you’ll get is results for “children of incarcerated parents.” We hope her work will help to change that. Check out the preview of Unheard Voices here.