This week has been a rollercoaster of emotions. It has been a time when we’ve had to inspire confidence and patience and a moment when the whole country is waiting for resolution and healing. Ultimately, justice will prevail. Black and Brown communities have been instrumental in getting rid of not just a tyrant in the White House, but also hopefully ending an era of anti-immigrant sentiment, an era of disrespect for those most impacted by social inequities, and an era of disregard for working-class families. We banded together and changed the direction of this country, even if it is just enough to retake the conversation to where we want it to be, to a future where we can live dignified self-determined lives.
On Monday the 2nd, I received news of Layla Avila’s passing; she served as the CEO and Executive Director of Education Leaders of Color, or as we know it, EdLoC. I initially thought this was impossible, we had talked only a few weeks back, and, as always, she had taken down notes on ways to support our efforts to advance the influence of Latinx leaders in Arizona. As Layla always did, she was co-conspiring in the most generous ways to ensure we had what we needed, to know that our efforts were worth it. That we mattered. She was one of the first people to believe in Iconico, our talent and commitment to the work, and she was one of the firsts to support the incubation of Instituto and ALL in Education. She was always there.
We often joked about how people probably thought we were related, and I often told her I wish we were. As a Mexican immigrant, most of my family is still in my country of birth, so I considered Layla a relative, someone who always cheered for us and challenged us with questions that truly shaped the present and the future work we will do. As I sit here writing, news outlets are reporting a historic flip in my state of Arizona, a historic number of voters of color, of young people, and a diverse coalition that we’ve built for the last ten years against white supremacy and anti-immigrant sentiment finally stepping into power. And Layla was constantly there, paying attention, offering her network, her knowledge, and sense of humor.
Layla leaves behind a loving husband and two children, so we are coming together as a community to offer our help. Please consider chipping in to her children’s college fund.
She left us too soon, but in the midst of this historic week, I’ve also been thinking of her with a smile on my face and a grateful heart. Why? Because she is one of those humans that is larger than life. Because Layla Avila came to this world to embolden us, to make us believe in our clairvoyance and brilliance. We are on our way sister, and we will meet again,