Local News

A Spark of Action Founded in Fullerton

The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 ignited a call for racial justice all around the world. Organizers, activists, and protestors came together to show solidarity as they demanded change. Ariel Parker, Esther Fagbamila, Brandy Factory and Laryssa Odd are Fullerton residents frustrated at the lack of Black representation in their community. They felt compelled to act and founded Upset Homegirls.

From left to right, Ariel Parker, Larissa Odd, Brandy Factory, and Esther Fagbamila, the founders of Upset Homegirls.

“We had gone to protests in Santa Ana and there [were] so many happening in the Orange County area. But we thought, ‘Well, what about Fullerton?’” Parker said. “So, what sparked it was, it was kind of like if no one else was going to do it, we’ll do it.”

“I was just really going through it. We were all going through it. No one really ever gets told to do these types of things so I thought, ‘We gotta do it.’ It literally just clicked for me,” Fagbamila said. “We were going through the emotions of the George Floyd murder and same with Breonna Taylor. I think that we knew that we needed to do something in Fullerton because it starts in your community.”

The founders, Parker (Artistic Director), Fagbamila (Director), Factory (Public Relations Manager), and Odd (Director of Communications) were all students at California State University, Fullerton when they met, though Upset Homegirls is not affiliated with CSUF. Zion Pham is the official spokesperson of Upset Homegirls.

“The way we all collaborate, we try our best to highlight each other’s wants and needs and desires for the organization and reflect our personalities. That’s why we don’t have a linear, strictly protest-type of thing because it wouldn’t be an actual representation of our organization,” Fagbamila said.

Upset Homegirls focuses on community engagement. The focus of their organization is toward the well-being of minorities and those who are marginalized by creating a space for people to express and share all they are going through.

“When we did start this, it was because there was no representation. So, we wanted to create a space for people to be able to grieve and share those emotions whether they are completely upset. That’s why we say ‘upset’ instead of ‘angry’ because upset could be a lot of things. We also are moving towards being joyful and using Black Joy as a form of resistance to injustices,” Factory said.

Members of Upset Homegirls speaking at a June, 2020 rally for justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. Photo by Jesse La Tour

They began this organization around the beginning of the lockdown last year, however, the pandemic did not slow their momentum. Apart from a few in-person protests, Upset Homegirls has been able to adapt their events to an online setting so they could still be accessible during the pandemic. They’ve hosted educational Netflix-watch parties, a financial literacy event, and most recently they held a dance-a-thon where people could take dance classes that were taught by volunteer instructors.

A crucial part of Upset Homegirls is the idea of using Black Joy as a form of resistance to injustices. There is a stigma around mental health that Upset Homegirls wanted to address and combat. The group created Black Joy Fridays, which dedicates each Friday, or a few Fridays during the month to a form of joyous resistance such as visual arts or dancing.

Many of their events keep mental health as a priority. In February, they hosted a wellness event in collaboration with Mother Moon where they brought in vendors, yoga instructors, DJs, spoken word, reiki, and meditation. During the month of May, which is Mental Health Awareness month, they honed in on using their Instagram page as a place where people can find resources.

“It was really cool to see everyone come together in that way and share what they have to offer for mental health, physical health, and emotional health,” Parker said. “That’s definitely something that I think Upset Homegirls represents because we all as individuals are very in tune with our mental health and keeping that intact so we want to project that as an organization as well.”

They have many hopes for the future of Upset Homegirls. They hope to grow their community in Fullerton, reach broader audiences, and find ways to help other marginalized communities.

“At the moment, we really want to focus on our community because that’s where change starts,” Fagbamila said. “It starts within you and then how you affect your community.”

To learn more about Upset Homegirls visit www.upsethomegirls.org or follow them on Instagram @upsethomegirls.

1 reply »

  1. I love the ideas of the Upset Homegirls. Just what Fullerton needs. It would be so fun, encouraging, and educational to have an ongoing regular column in the Observer written by these dynamic young people. And thanks to Grace Widyatmadja for her wonderful articles!