Kamisha Thomas

Kamisha Thomas is a director, producer, and interdisciplinary artist using film and art-based advocacy to lead the discussion on ending mass incarceration.

Columbus, Ohio native and second-generation carceral system survivor, Kamisha Thomas is an interdisciplinary artist dedicated to ending mass incarceration. After serving seven and a half years in prison, she and Aimee Wissman established the Returning Artists Guild (RAG) in 2019, a group of directly-impacted artist-abolitionists. Kamisha is a 2019 Right of Return Fellow and a 2022 Art for Justice grantee and screened her first short film, BANG!, at the 41st Cleveland International Film Festival and MoMA’s Pens to Pictures event as part of the exhibit “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration.”

Thomas believes that unapologetic artistic expression is the tool that will destroy the master’s house: the system that disproportionately exploits and kills Black and Brown bodies.

Right of Return Project

Silence is Consent: The Crime

A 2020 Right of Return Fellow, Thomas is working on a new film entitled Silence is Consent: The Crime. This film is the first in a series that explores the ugly truths about humanity, exploring different injustices found throughout the justice system. The film follows 17-year-old Lyric Edwards after she is charged with murder when her boyfriend dies during a routine traffic stop with police.

On advocacy and artistic vision with their project:

“I am trying to address the humanization of the people who have been charged with crimes, and everybody involved really. And also, really highlighting the impact that a felony conviction has on a family and the community as well. Because when you lock up one person, you’re not just locking up that individual. That person’s support system or family, if they have one, is being locked up as well. I think it’s really important that people know how that affects their community specifically. They think, “Oh well, we’re reducing crime.” But that’s not even what’s happening. You’re actually making the potential for more crime. Through my films, I create empathy by telling the stories that haven’t been told. Diving into the “why.” Really getting down to the root of which needs have not been met for the person who is committing the crime. So storytelling that creates empathy.”