What does empowerment mean to you? This is a question I not only asked myself but to a group of women that I was working with a couple of years ago. My goal was to start a woman empowerment movement through supporting local female artists within a public market/networking platform. We called ourselves the Detroit Goddess Gallery. Although I have not invested much of my energy towards this movement as of late, this is still a goal of mine. In hindsight, at the time, I did not feel supported within the group of women I was working with - although I love them all very dearly. In addition to already building Transitions by Truth, I kind of had a whole new idea and ran with it, hoping that someone would partner with me on making this vision into a full bloom reality...and even still, I have hope so if you (anybody) are reading this and this interests you please reach out! I'd love to share with you what I have drawn up so far and would love to get some feedback as well as input.
Anyway, without getting sidetracked (which is often common for me, lol), it was quite presumptuous of me to sort of expect one of the seven other women take on such a huge responsibility when they all had their own busy lives to lead. Regardless, our time spent working together was purely magical! We truly created something beautiful together and in all of my years living I have never experienced women of such a diverse background coming together, advocating for one another and inspiring each other so beautifully. Overall, my experience with those seven goddesses was powerful and uplifting. Thank you, Wanda, Fatima, Whitney, Emerald, Honey, Noor, and Reem for sharing time and space together throughout the entire planning and execution of Dally in the Alley 2018! You women ROCK!!! - Pun intended since you all were such a solid team, lol :)
Since then, empowerment has been a strong focus of mine - not just for women but for all beings. While my history with victim-blaming within matters of sexual assault and domestic violence has influenced me to hold a strong innate empathy for women, I have a greater understanding that women are not the only victims and sexual assault and domestic violence are not the only traumatic experiences in life.
I recently finished reading a memoir by Jonathan Van Ness titled Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love. This was a title picked by the bookclub at Drifter Coffee (one of my treasured happy places). I'll be honest and say that prior to reading this title, I was ready to call it quits on the book club. While I enjoyed the social interaction and learning different styles of writing, I was not exactly a fan of some of the heavy material that we were reading. I did not feel inspired but instead triggered due to my own experiences in life that flooded my memory as I read through some of the selected material over the last few months. When I became aware that the club decided to switch the title from The Nickel Boys to Over the Top, I wasn't exactly enthused. "Who is Jonathan Van Ness anyway?", I thought to myself and yet I considered the fact that after sharing my opinion, my voice was heard.
Just one chapter in, I quickly realized that Jonathan Van Ness is an archetype of the type of person I strive to be and was overall deeply inspired by his story. He shares very intimate and explicit truths about his life and uses his experiences to both educate and empower others. This is, in fact, the goal of sharing Words of Truth. Similar to Jonathan, I had a traumatic childhood and struggled greatly with my self-image, understanding my emotions and substance abuse during my early years of adulthood. I used to despise many things within my past, but have learned to appreciate each experience and how each has shaped me into who I am today. I felt even more empowered after reading Jonathan Van Ness's story and hope that what I share will inspire you to open up and share your truth.
The most beautiful things in life are a result of some of the most adverse environments. Like the lotus flower, in order to grow, it must be surrounded by mud. From the mud, a beautiful lotus rises above the water. That is each and every one of us on this planet. We are all capable of becoming something greater.