Aya
de Leon

Details

Biography
Topics
African Americans
Art & Politics
Body Image
Education
Environment
Hip Hop
Latinxs
Multiculturalism
Performance
Poetry/Spoken Word
Programs for High School Students
Racism/Racial Justice
Storytelling
Women & Feminism

Aya de León is an award-winning author, activist, and speaker. Through her speaking and writing, Aya expertly explores the intersections of race, gender, socio-economic status, and climate justice.

She has published several novels for adults, young adults, and children that examine racial and social identity and its connection to climate justice. She also currently directs the Poetry for the People program in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley, teaching poetry, spoken word, and climate writing. Since 2021, Aya has been organizing with the Black Hive, the climate justice formation of the Movement for Black Lives. In 2022, she organized an online conference entitled Black Literature vs. the Climate Emergency, calling for more Black people to join the climate justice movement.
 
Some of Aya's titles include her award-winning "Justice Hustlers" feminist heist series, which includes Side Chick Nation—the first novel published about Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico;  A Spy In The Struggle, which is about FBI infiltration of an African American organization fighting for climate justice and Black Lives, and That Dangerous Energy, a novel about a fashion designer who finds herself in a love triangle between a fossil fuel mogul and a climate activist and begins spying for the movement.
 
Aya's writings have appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Ebony, Guernica, Writer's Digest, Bitch Magazine, VICE, The Root, and Ploughshares. She was also a founding blogger with The Daily Dose: Feminist Voices for the Green New Deal.  Prior to writing fiction and non-fiction, she was an award-winning spoken word and hip hop theater performing artist.
 
Aya received her B.A. from Harvard University and her M.F.A. from Antioch University, LA.  She has been an artist-in-residence at Stanford University, and an alumna of Cave Canem Poetry Fellowship, VONA, and the Bread Loaf Environmental Writing Workshop.
 
Currently, she has several projects underway - a memoir of her body that explores the intersection of food, body image, race, gender, war, and the environment; publishing other authors with the climate justice fiction imprint Fighting Chance Books, and, working on the pilot of her Justice Hustlers series, which has been optioned for television.

Testimonials
Thank you again, Aya, for such an outstanding class visit and public reading down at CSU Monterey Bay. Your time and presence were a true gift for students and colleagues alike. Big appreciation from the Creative Writing and Social Action Program! Looking forward to future projects and social justice heist collaborations. 
- Debra Busman, Director, Creative Writing and Social Action Program, CSU Monterey Bay
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