by Sophia Abraham-Raveson
I am entering a room I have never been in before. The lighting is bright and harsh, and
the eyes that I see look energized and awake, unlike my own. It is 8am, and I have been awake since 5am. My stomach feels unsettled from eating breakfast in the car. I am thinking about my dirty hair, how if only I had had time to wash it this morning, I might feel like myself. As I walk further into the room, I see men wearing t-shirts, pants, button-ups, jackets, and beanies, all in different shades of maroon: they range from crisp and dark to a faded nearly-pink.
I am wearing a blue plaid button-up shirt with black skinny jeans. I had anxiously picked out this outfit the night before, making sure to pick something that covered my shoulders, was not low cut, was not so sheer or thin to reveal my transgression: that I was not—due to the prison’s ban on underwire—wearing a bra. In the car ride over, a friend had mistaken my jeans for leggings, which are NOT allowed in the dress code. It had sent me into a panic. But I made it through security, made it to this room, and still I feel wrong.
And then suddenly Phill is shaking my hand, and saying, “Hi, I’m Phill. Sophia, it’s great
to meet you. Thank you for coming.” I am quiet, or I say, “Nice to meet you,” but I do not say: “Phill”. Before my mind can wake up and tune in, someone else shakes my hand and says, “Hi Sophia. I’m Fred. Great to meet you.” His smile is warm and casual. My smile feels shaky and unconvincing. As I start to open my eyes a bit wider, I quietly take in the faces around me, who I don’t yet know, but who have shown me that they know me, or at least want to know me. I feel named, I feel valued, I feel seen.
--Sophia attended her first Let’s Circle Up workshop in 2016, which sparked her drive to learn
more about practicing restorative justice. Sophia became an official volunteer with Let’s Circle
Up in 2020. She graduated from Haverford College in 2018, and since then has spent her time
organizing film festivals, studying West African dance, and falling in love with her kitten, Babka.