MEME + CLIFF STYLES
FROM THE BEGINNING
Clifton L. Styes and Jameila “Meme” Taliaferro met at a highschool Black Student Union dance in 1995. She was 14 and he was 15. Their first dance was to D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar.” He was this really cool new kid at Rancho Buena Vista High school and she was a well known cheerleader at El Camino High. It allhat night he convinced Meme to break up with her then boyfriend (who was not at the dance) and leave room for him. A few months later, Meme and Cliff bumped into each other at the mall. Meme completely forgot his name, but that did not stop Cliff from writing his name and phone number in her planner. They became friends, and then best friends who started going to church together and making long bus trips across town just to meet each other. Cliff was always really funny. He would walk her onto the bus acting like Dezi talking to Lucy, singing how much he would miss her till the morning.
In 1999 Jalisa Styles, the couples first child, was born. Cliff had enlisted in the Air Force and was ready to create a home for his new family. In 2000, they married and moved to Vandenberg AFB in California. In 2001, their second child, Clifton Kamaal Styles was born in Lompoc, CA. In 2003, things got tough because of the war in Iraq. Cliff enthusiastically volunteered to be one of the first to touch down in Baghdad. He fought bravely for years in Iraq. In 2005, he chose to go into the Army and soon after, Joshua Zion Styles was born right before Cliff’s departure for a 2nd and 3rd tour in Iraq, but this time with the Army. These were really traumatic fights and like most Army families, they relied on their friends and fellow soldiers to cope with the realities of such a long war. They moved from California to Alaska, back down to the lower 48 and settled in Austin, Texas in 2014 after Cliff had retired It was also the height of the Black Lives Matter movement which Meme was heavily involved in and Cliff was struggling to find his place after serving such a long time at war. After a very difficult break, they decided to divorce, but throughout the entire separation they longed for one another and for their family being back together. During this time of separation Meme poured herself into her organization, MEASURE filling every moment with the work of social justice.
"I began grieving for my family. I knew that God was calling me to put my pride aside and run back to the husband that he gave me years before.” On December 24, 2019 Cliff asked Meme to be his wife for the 2nd time while on a trip to Disney World with their family. She happily said yes.
WEDDING + COVID
They were to be wed at NXNW on May 9th, 2020. It was finally going to be their first REAL wedding, but it was to also be some sort of family reunion. They had multiple generations ready to come to Austin to celebrate our reunion and the rebuilding of our family. Months of planning went into the special date. The wedding cake was even created to be a symbol of generational love, with the cake depicting pictures of our ancestors. They were forced to cancel the wedding in mid-March and had to break the news to our family and friends that there were no plans to reschedule due to the uncertainty of the virus. NXNW closed their doors forever on April 16th, 2020.
MEASURE works to use data and education to empower communities to eliminate social disparities. Using their CARE Model process, they ensure lifestyle experience data of marginalized populations is leveraged by communities and institutions to design and implement equitable solutions to address social disparities. Data is not used effectively or collaboratively in the social justice ecosystem. As a result, the lifestyle of people of color is underestimated as a vital resource for equitable planning, evaluation and policy. MEASURE empowers people impacted by social, economic, and political disparities to deconstruct underlying narratives and work together to find equitable solutions.
One of their most front-running collaborations is the Innocence Initiative. It is a multifaceted approach to protecting Black girls from unfair treatment. MEASURE is working to create policy recommendations and has provided training to over 700 juvenile youth defenders by creating a comic book that is for the empowerment of Black Girls. They also were able to step up during COVID to provide direct support to Black girls through mental wellness support, technology access, food and monitorship.
"This is just the beginning," MEASURE founder, Meme Styles stated. "We are trying to reimagine public safety and that can't happen in a vacuum. We have to take very close consideration of what the community deems as critical to public safety. I think the city wants to get this right, they just don't know how. But this proposal shows they are listening."
TODAY'S FOCUS They are working to continue the re-imagination process of public safety by supporting the city with research and education on how to improve. They are continuing their work to empower Black girls. LEARN MORE
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Coloring love into our community
Meme + Cliff Styles are set to wed at the Union on Eighth in Georgetown on July 25th, 2021 courtesy of the Austin wedding industry who donated over $30,000 worth of wedding products and services.