Waller, 24, is a native of Oakland, California, and now lives in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. She moved to New York to attend Sarah Lawrence University, where she graduated in 2009.
Although Waller knew she wanted to be an activist before she left her home state, it was in college that she learned the area of work she wanted to focus on.
“For me, the ultimate goal of anything I do is to end oppression,” she said. “It’s about empowering people to lift one another up to make change.”
In college she started “to see the prison system as a direct descendent of slavery and a way of controlling and oppressing people of color,” Waller said.
In addition to interning with a civil rights lawyer near City Hall in Manhattan, Waller works with the New York branch of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. The organization works on behalf of victims of government entrapment. She is also involved in anti-war and other anti-racism activism, Waller said.
For example, Waller said she fights for Muslims and Midwestern political activists who have been wrongfully targeted by the FBI for supporting terrorism.
Waller sings about her activism work in a few songs performed by her band, The Brooklyn Blues Project, which was formed in April.
“It was funny," she said. "The first couple of months we only had gigs in Manhattan, and everyone was like ‘when are you coming to Brooklyn?’”
Waller said the Brooklyn leg of the BBP tour is coming up, but the next shows are at Banjo Jim’s at 538 East 14th Street on Thursday, August 4, and Otto’s Shrunken Head at 538 East 14th Street on Friday, August 5, in Manhattan.