Meet My New BFF by Amy Ralston Povah
On April 26th, Miquelle West, fashion stylist extraordinaire for Sean Combs company, Revolt TV and daughter of drug war lifer, Michelle West, came to Malibu so we could finally meet in person. This woman is so amazing, so talented, so wise beyond her years that I never wanted the day to end. We couldn’t stop talking about our mutual respect for her mother, Michelle, who is featured on the CAN-DO homepage; has served over 21 years and, as Miquelle puts it – is her inspiration on a daily basis and was the motivation that encouraged Miquelle to shoot for the stars! And boy – has she. Miquelle studied under fashion icon Patricia Field while working on Sex and the City and Hope and Faith. She has also styled for BET, The Ricki Lake Show, VH1’s Love and Hip Hop, Quincy Combs and worked with many prominent celebrities.
We ventured to NOBU for cocktails and then advanced to Malibu’s Duck Dive to talk about what it was like growing up as a child without a mother to nurture her on a daily basis. Miquelle assured me that Michelle was very involved in her upbringing, even from prison. “I missed my mother so much, that I valued every phone conversation we had and took her advice to heart. She encouraged me to make something of myself and never look back. She didn’t want me to end up working in a dead-end job. I have loved fashion since I was a little girl, so I decided to focus on something that moved me. Initially, I moved to New York city, because that’s the heart of the fashion industry in the U.S. I attended a fashion show for DKNY and Patricia Fields kept looking at me while she was speaking, so I decided to go up and introduce myself. The next thing I knew – she took me under her wing and I interned for her, which taught me so much. She is still my inspiration.”
Needless to say, Miquelle and I bonded and therefore, we made a second date. Miquelle invited me to Russell Simmons’ Invitation Only Def Jam Comedy on Wednesdays at Grauman’s Theater. We hammed it up on the red
carpet, mingled with folks before and after the show, and Miquelle even introduced me to Russell Simmons, who is not only an icon, but has been a major hero of mine for many years. I didn’t hesitate to thank “Uncle Rush” for his devotion to the same cause I have devoted my life to – ending the drug war!
More specifically, I thanked him for the open letter he sent to President Obama strongly urged him to move the failed drug war from a criminal justice platform to a public health approach. That letter, in my opinion, was the single most influential thing that caused AG Holder, just four months later, to back away from using mandatory minimums in all drug cases. Holder gave a speech on August 8th, 2013, saying, “Although incarceration has a role to play in our justice system, widespread incarceration at the federal, state and local levels is both ineffective and unsustainable…It imposes a significant economic burden—totaling $80 billion in 2010 alone—and it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.”
Simmons is still devoted to the cause, however, he gave Justin Bieber credit for causing the “Open Letter to Obama” to go viral, by tweeting about it. A coalition of over 175 artists, actors and athletes signed the letter, including: Will Smith, Dr. Boyce Watkins, Scarlett Johansson, Ron Howard, Mark Wahlberg, Kim Kardashian, Ben Jealous, Eva Longoria, Demi Moore, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Russell Brand, John Legend, Sir Richard Branson, Nicki Minaj, Harry Belafonte, just to name a few.
In part, the letter stated, “It is critical that we change both the way we think about drug laws in this country and how we generate positive solutions that leave a lasting impact on rebuilding our communities. We need to break the school to prison pipeline, support and educate our younger generations and provide them with a path that doesn’t leave them disenfranchised with limited options.”
Together, we are determined to bring Michelle home to her daughter and together, we CAN-DO it!