Tell the Untold Stories

“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” – Zora Neale Hurston

During the 75th Golden Globes Awards this year, Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. de Mille award for outstanding achievement in entertainment, the first black woman to receive the award. Her riveting and powerful speech about the #metoo movement created by activist Tarana Burke, a black woman, went viral, in part because of what many called its “presidential” timbre. But, there was another reason Ms. Winfrey’s speech caught wind – she told the story of Recy Taylor. Continue reading

Reclaiming the Narrative: Part Two

Last week, I wrote the initial entry on Reclaiming the Narrative: Single Motherhood, a series of posts that will explore how we can begin to re-imagine single motherhood in a way that is empowering, liberating, and purposeful.

As a public theologian, I cannot but help to write about these things through a Christian lens; my engagement in and with the Christian Church implores me to challenge and awaken the ways in which we engage Scripture as a tool for liberation because it has served as a foundation for the moral stances we take — whether we want to admit it or not.  There has been a longstanding trend of using Scripture to oppress and marginalize single mothers. We’ve taken Scriptures like Ephesians 5:3-17 (that shames sexual sin) as a grounds for single mothers to be perpetually punished for their “sin” of single motherhood. We’ve glazed over texts like 2 Esdras 2:20  that admonishes us to care for the fatherless (fatherless children are raised by single mothers, yes?) because it does not fit the narrative of shame that we ask single mothers to try on for size. Continue reading

Women in Ministry: When the Call is Enough

We can trace the path of some of our most beloved biblical characters through their call to ministry: Moses, Gideon, even Jeremiah were called by God, pushed towards that call despite their own fears, and were reassured that God would be with them as they went forth in obedience. It’s not nearly as common to hear of a “call narrative” for women in the bible, however. The biblical stories of women entering ministry are present but often overlooked. Continue reading

100 Girls a Night

As a native Atlantan, I’ve spent many years hearing the quiet conversations about  girls who get “turned out” in the most innocent of places: our skating rinks, our night clubs, even in our own homes. When I was in high school, I remember a few girls who were “stripping” for money after school; I’m not quite sure what happened to them. The fact that I don’t know speaks to a greater problem that the city of Atlanta has had for a long time: child sex trafficking.

Our girls grow up too fast, it seems. I recently saw a girl who could have been no older than 10-years-old wearing a full set of acrylic nails, a halter top, and short shorts. My daughter, who is only 7 years-old, asked “isn’t she too young to wear fake nails?” “Indeed,” I told her.

Sadly, there are men who pry on “adult” children like her; their insatiable, and quite frankly, disgusting desire to have sex with a child has fueled the child sex trafficking industry. Atlanta has become a hot spot, and it’s not for good reasons; Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport  is one of the largest hub for commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and young adults in the U.S.

Our girls, especially African-American ones, are entering child sex slavery at alarming rates. On average, over 100 adolescent girls are raped and sexually exploited for money in Georgia on any given night. Yes, that means that by nightfall, there will be 100 adolescent girls who will do the unthinkable for reasons unimaginable. Many of them have run away from home and they have no one to turn to. Their faces are all over missing posters, but their pimps keep them under such a lock-and-key, they’ll never know anyone is looking for them.

Living Waters for Girls (LWFG), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, has been a beacon of light for girls who desperately want to leave  sex trafficking; Living Waters’ goal is to “rescue, rehabilitate and restore commercially sexually exploited girls by providing safe refuge and holistic therapeutic services”, but their impact is much greater than that. Their long-term comprehensive program helps girls earn their GED, break free from drug and alcohol addictions, gain valuable vocational and life skills and prepare them for a life free from abuse.

Living Waters focuses on restoring the entire person and empowering them to live beyond their circumstances. Founder Lisa Williams has committed her life to raising awareness about commercial sex trafficking and needs our help to further her reach to save our girls.

Starting April 1, Living Water for Girls is launching A 100 Days for Beautiful a virtual fundraiser to raise $40,000 to receive a matching grant from The Quest Foundation. If they can raise $40,000, The Quest Foundation will give them $40,000. How’s that for exponential giving?

LWFG is asking for you, yes YOU, to host a kick-off party April 1 (or any day thereafter) to help spread the word about their efforts. Invite your friends (and your daughters, nieces, and sisters), gather some food, and a laptop. Open up the discussion (and your wallet) to make a donation to Living Waters for Girls.

I’m doing my part (two-fold) by bringing awareness and making a donation. It’s small, but it helps. To learn more about Living Water for Girls, visit and check out the video below.

Brandy, Monica, and the Repossessors: An In-depth Look

Let me begin this post by stating this is much more than a critique of music. It is, like much of my work, and exploration of a different perspective.

Let us begin.

Women have been repossessing their stuff from men for a long time now.

“The clothes on his back, I buy them. The car he drives, I pay the note every month.” — Shirley Brown, 1974

“You may have had him once but I got him all the time.” — MoKenStef, 1995

“Every time we go somewhere
I gotta reach down in my purse
To pay your way and your homeboys way
And sometimes your cousin’s way!” — Erykah Badu, 1997

“To the left, to the left
Everything you own in the box to the left
In the closet that’s my stuff, yes
If I bought it, please don’t touch.” — Beyoncé Knowles, 2006

“Those clothes, those cars, those rings That MacBook, that sh-t belongs to me.” Brandy and Monica, 2012

With Brandy and Monica’s new song “It All Belongs to Me” blaring on my airwaves, I couldn’t help but think about this long lineage of women singing about a love lost and the process of repossession that occurs at the end of the break up.

While this type of “women’s liberation” (I use that phrase very loosely) has been going on for a while, it irked me that after all this time, we were still singing about reclaiming stuff from men who we can assume brought nothing to the table anyway.

And to boot, Brandy and Monica’s video featured them reclaiming items from one man; is it safe to say that this is the same man they were arguing over 12 years ago in “The Boy is Mine”? (I know it’s not Mekhi Phifer, but you understand the continual video concept.)

So what does this say to women (as I was one of the teenage girls rolling my neck, singing along to that 1998 cut) that 12 years later, you are still vying for the same man, and you’ve “upped the ante” by using your wealth to give him a life that he’s not willing to provide for himself?

It’s simple. We have no idea who we are, why we were put here, and what God’s intent for our lives are.

See, God made it very clear that there’s an order to everything when He introduced us to Adam and Eve.

When Eve came on the scene, she came to a place that was already prepared for her.

She wasn’t toiling in the garden, grinding it out, trying to make things happen. She wasn’t “holding it down for her man” while he “gets on his feet.”

Eve was aware that she was there to help Adam, use the skills God gave her to make Eden an even better place for them, and live without the pressures of doing the hard work Adam was called to do.

She came into a place that was whole, complete, and fully ready to receive her. Adam did his part. He provided a “home”, food to eat, and gave her the space to do what God called her to do, too.

This, my friends, is God’s divine order. This is an expression of God’s love and His absolute best for his daughters.

I’m sure Eve added her own “touches” and additions to the garden, much like we do in our own relationships. We work. We pursue our goals. We live our lives. We aren’t, however, to get out of God’s will and become a sole provider to men. Not then, not now, not ever.

It’s not how we were built. It’s not God’s best for us. And if we used this model as an example of what to look for when choosing our mate, we’d never have to worry about becoming a repossessor of any sort.

This isn’t to say that women shouldn’t buy things for their significant others; let’s not miss the point. This is about knowing God’s ideal purpose for us through the biggest and most sensitive part of ourselves: our heart. We know we never give a gift without giving a sliver of souls with it. God wants to protect our “investments” by ensuring the gardens we pour back into are prepared by men who understand the importance of preparing for us first.

When we know God and understand His character, we realize that He created us to enter into our own versions of Eden prepared by a man who has a sense of purpose, works towards that purpose, and understands his role as a provider. Knowing these nuances about the One who created you makes it easier to know your role, play it well, and let Him do the “dirty work.” If Eve’s first introduction to their life together was Eden, why should our introductions be any less?

How do you view women who pour too much into men who haven’t properly prepared for them? Is it socially acceptable or a destructive trend to follow?

“You tol’ Harpo to beat me?!”

Ms. Sophia

"All my life I had to fight..."

Today, I announced to a group of my coworkers that I was a domestic violence victim. Well, I didn’t intentionally tell them, it just kind of came out while I was discussing a new project that I am leading a group of girls in. They are collecting items for a local women and children’s shelter, and while giving my spill, I included myself in the over 50% of women who endure domestic violence.

As my voice cracked and hands shook, I left the auditorium with a forced smile and a burning feeling in my chest.

Why was I feeling this way? Why was my heart aching so?

It had been years since I even thought about those daunting days and nights in 2004 and for the most part, thought I was over it all. Hell, I even thought that I had dealt with those feelings in my book, Pieces: Finding the Missing Piece is Easier than You Think when I went through the whole rigmarole forgiving the man who was my abuser.

Guess I was wrong.

By the time I made it home, I was a steaming hot mess, and if not for the sweet provoking of a dear friend to “just let it go, cry it out”, I probably would have spent another day, month, year holding on to those feelings.

The embarrassment and shame that comes with domestic abuse is one that I think we forget exists. Once our scars heal and our feelings are mended, once we move on with our lives and, if we’re lucky, have forgiven our offenders, we’re still left with the embarrassment and shame. Those two bastards burrow deep into our souls like little rodents preparing for a long winter’s nap.

The emotions of domestic violence never really leaves you. They are always there, hiding in the folds and crevices of our being, intertwining themselves in our lives, becoming a part of our molecular structure.

Before we realize it, we’ve allowed our embarrassment and shame keep us from pursuing things, leading ventures, chasing dreams because we secretly fear that someone may find out, judge and ridicule us for not being smarter, wiser, seeing the signs.

Today I took off my badge of victimization and waved my victory banner.

I was lucky. His slaps in the face and pushes into walls while 6 months pregnant didn’t stop me. Him chasing me out of my house with a knife into the streets didn’t put a damper on what  good things were to come in my life. The scars and bruises on my face and neck eventually healed. I lived.

I always have to wonder why God causes me to have these major moments of self-realization, but I’m sure it’s for a good reason.

I also know that my pain, your pain isn’t for us to carry. It’s there to face and let go so someone else can have the courage to do the same.

Feel free to share this post with someone you know or love. It may give them the courage necessary to wave their victory banner, too.

On the chase,

Alisha L.