Baltimore native and community organizer Diamon Fisher, 26, creates spaces where Black people can reflect, reclaim joy, and deepen community bonds.
She grew up in Gwynn Oak and also spent a lot of her childhood in Superman’s, the barber shop on North Avenue owned by her father.
On August 1, Fisher joined Afro Charities as special projects and programming manager. The organization is the nonprofit arm of Baltimore’s historic AFRO American Newspaper, and is responsible for maintaining the newspaper’s 130-year-old archives, a record of Black Baltimore’s cultural past. Before joining Afro Charities, Fisher worked at Maryland Citizens For The Arts, which she credits for helping her further develop her talent for creating events.
“My work has always intentionally and unintentionally centered and amplified Black voices, Black creativity, and Black nostalgia,” she said.
Fisher organized a Juneteenth Celebration in June 2021, as many Baltimoreans, including myself, were stepping out of our homes in ways we hadn’t since the pandemic started, 15 months earlier. Local musicians Abdu Ali and Al Rogers Jr. and Da Lor Band were joined by groups as far away as Chicago to mark the day the last African Americans were told they were indeed freed from bondage. As a native Texan, Juneteenth has always held a special place in my heart. I went to Fisher’s celebration to soak up the beautiful outfits, the dancing, shopping, laughs, and hugs that made the day special.
More recently, Fisher organized a back to school drive in late August at Whitelock Farm. Fisher organized donations of money and supplies, raising awareness about the event on social media. She provided backpacks, school supplies, and COVID-19 tests to residents across the city. There were also bounce houses, face painters, free haircuts, and a petting zoo.
Over the summer, Fisher also co-launched the online platform Black On Bouff Sidez, a digital space that connects Black people with Black resources. You can visit the website and find lists of Black therapists, playlists, PDFs of books by Black authors, and the best Black-owned restaurants in your city. Fisher and her collaborator Kashmir hope to expand the platform’s reach to other cities.
Black women have historically been pulled in every direction, overextended, undercompensated, and expected to serve and give selflessly. All the while, Black women hold up the sky, as my Aunt Valerie would say. Women like Fisher not only hold up the sky for themselves and their families, but all Black people in their orbit. She is dedicated to uplifting and celebrating Black folks, and she creates spaces for joy, community, education, and resources — and often does so without compensation. In art and social justice spaces, white folks often show up unprompted to take up space. Programs and events focused on Black people, run by Black women, and specifically for Black people are critical and necessary. All of Fisher’s work is by and for us.
Fisher’s Instagram handle @leche.lady is a marker of digital existence and the day-to-day life she lives offline. Leche Lady encapsulates the expansiveness and entirety of her ethereal presence. Leche means milk in Spanish, alluding to her Puerto Rican roots and doubly referencing her ultimate role as mother to two beautiful boys, Sacred and Solar.
Teri Henderson: Where are you from? Where are your roots? And where are your people from?
Diamon Fisher: I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. On my paternal side, they are from Baltimore; Frederick, Maryland; and North Carolina. And on my mother’s side, my mother was born and raised in New York. So was my grandmother. And my grandfather was born and raised in Puerto Rico. My mother’s side is New York, like NuyorRican, and then my dad’s side is Baltimore, Maryland, North Carolina.
TH: How do you describe what you do in your own words? What are your roles?
DF: I’m an artist. A full-time artist, a full-time mommy. I have two boys. I call myself a community caretaker [but] I don’t really like to limit myself or call myself a community organizer, because I feel like I go beyond this organizing aspect. I am a freedom advocate. I advocate for Black people. I consider myself an archivist. A researcher. A resource.
TH: Congratulations on your new job at Afro Charities. What is your role there?
DF: Yes, Afro Charities is a nonprofit partner to [the] AFRO Newspaper. [The AFRO launched 130 years ago as the Baltimore Afro-American and is the longest continuously published Black-owned newspaper in the nation.] We handle a lot of the programming and the event organizing. We do the community outreach. The AFRO Newspaper is more like the print [side], and we do the community-related things.
TH: I’m sure your archiving practice will play a part in that as well. Are you working with director of Afro Charities, Savannah Wood?
DF: Yes, Savannah [Wood] and Deyane Moses. Deyane Moses is the public archivist and Savannah is the executive director. I am the special projects and programming manager.
We’re actually still redefining my role, and other roles and responsibilities. We are a small team of three. So we’re all figuring out our positions, but it’s been beautiful so far.
TH: I also saw that you were doing a project with Google.
DF: I got a call from somebody that [said] they wanted me and my family to be a part of the Google News Initiative Project, where they were highlighting the AFRO Newspaper’s [130th] anniversary.
I was [actually] in the AFRO Newspaper as a little girl. I was featured, I believe when I was eight or nine. I [had] won a music scholarship when I was a kid, I was studying Italian opera and jazz and piano.
[While they were recording an interview] Savannah walked up to me when we had a break [on set], and she said, “Diamon, I have this position in mind. I really would love to pitch it to you. But I understand that you have a crazy schedule between mommyhood and creative projects that you’re doing, and I’m almost afraid to pitch it to you. But I’ll pitch it to you wherever I get all the cards in order.”
Two weeks later, she emailed me, we set up an interview, and I got hired the following week. It was dope that we were in the same space together for this Google News Initiative Project, and she ended up hiring me for Afro Charities right after that.
TH: Why is creating these spaces specifically for Black people so important right now, especially in Baltimore?
DF: Creating incubators ultimately for Black people in Baltimore is super important because we [must] protect our creative and intellectual properties. You know what I’m saying?
It’s important that we support Black. It’s important that we create safe environments, beyond just creative environments, but safe environments for us. I’m saying it’s important to do it in a city like Baltimore. This is one of the Blackest cities in America. So I think it’s only fair to have spaces and incubators for Black [folks] only.
I think it’s important that we have spaces for us to thrive. And I think, ultimately, Black people thrive in spaces created for us. By us. Because of the level of comfort — and beyond comfort, just being able to relate. Anything synonymous to relate. For Black by Black, it’s more sustainable. If that makes sense.
TH: You’re talking about knowing you can come in an actual safe space. Where you can come in and let your guard down and don’t have to worry.
DF: It’s not always easy. My homegirl Mira always says, she’s like, “Yo, you chose one of the most thankless jobs.” But I also feel like it’s super rewarding even in those thankless moments, or even with it being a thankless job — and I don’t even technically think it’s a thankless job, necessarily. But it is tough.
It is hard sometimes to be a leader, because you feel like others rely on you, and leading the pack sometimes can be anxiety-inducing. But I feel like somebody’s got to do it. There are multiple other beautiful leaders in Baltimore, of course. It’s hard at times, but it’s definitely rewarding, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
The work is hard, but the work is worth it — when we are talking about building futures for Black people.
TH: How do you practice self-care?
DF: Honestly, I’d like to catch up on sleep. I like to sleep. I’m not gonna lie. I was just telling my partner the day, I’m like, “Do you remember the type of sleep we used to get before we had kids?” Catching up on sleep is one of the ways that I care for myself. I’ve always just been, like, a sleepy girl anyway.
TH: That’s that Taurus energy.
DF: Taurus and Pisces stellium, the two sleepiest people. Catching up on rest for sure.
Caring for myself can really just be, at this point, small indulgences. Even if it’s, like, going out and buying myself my favorite fragrance. Going to a coffee shop and being able to sit and do work, or not do work. I care for myself by going to the farmers market and buying produce and flowers and wine, or whatever else. I feel like, at this point in my life, sometimes it’s hard to do a whole day’s worth of self-care. You know, I can’t always get out and go to a spa because of my busy life, between work and motherhood. At this point in my life, as I said, it’s more so like the very small indulgences, and moments to myself.
TH: In the past couple of years, what have been some of those projects that you’ve done that you are most proud of?
DF: The back to school drive we just did in August. That was one of my favorite events that I’ve done. I would like to say Juneteenth last year. But I also don’t want to keep saying Juneteenth of last year. That Juneteenth celebration was insane. This year’s Juneteenth celebration was beautiful, too. I do think that they both [Juneteenth celebrations] had very different vibes. And I kind of beat myself up about it a little bit, to some extent, because I feel like last year there were way more people.
But what I didn’t realize was there were two different vibes. This one was more of like a family-oriented vibe. People bought the babies out and their whole families. My family came this year. Last year was more of like a turn-up, you know? Singer Keiyaa performed, there was a lot happening. And there were so many other beautiful things happening at this one, too.
I’ve done so many events. The other day I was sitting there, like, I need to start writing down, and I need to start a Google Doc with just all of the events.
TH: Didn’t you do a movie series, also?
DF: Yes, I did. Another project that I’ve been working on that I’m excited about is Black On Bouff Sidez. That is a platform that I just launched with one of my good friends and creative partners, Kashmir. She’s amazing. She’s a collagist, she’s a videographer, she’s a photographer — [a] multiple-hyphenated being, as she calls herself. We launched this project together called Black On Bouff Sidez, which is a website. It is a creative and safe incubator online for Black creatives. It’s a resource site where people can find Black therapists, Black eateries in Baltimore; we’re adding more, we’re adding more to the list. We want to start putting together, like, New York City, Philly, like all of the surrounding cities.
We’ll be doing that soon. But for now, we started off with Baltimore. We also have Black PDFs, like books that are downloadable. We have, I believe, a Langston Hughes poetry book on there, an Angela Davis autobiography on there, and a few other ones.
Black music, Black playlists, very Black. All sorts of stuff. That is one of my favorite creative projects that I launched over the last couple of years, and the back to school drive.
The back to school drive was one of my favorites. Community is everybody; it’s elders, it’s children, people in our age bracket, and everybody in between. But there is something about projects, or, like, doing things in community with children, that hits different, like, you know what I’m saying?
I really enjoy providing resources, ultimately, for the community. I also still have book bags, and supplies, COVID tests, and all of that for anybody that’s still in need. So I would love for people to know that.
TH: What are some dreams that you have for yourselves, your loved ones, your people, for your community? What are some dreams that you’d like to share?
DF: Honestly, more resources. That’s one of my biggest dreams, like, more resources. I want to become a bigger resource to my community, too, you know?
But I want everybody to have access to more resources. And that could be kind of, like, vague, because ‘resources’ can mean so many things. But that’s what I mean. Like, I want so many things for my people.
That’s what I want for my people. Abundance and resources, ultimately.