The Truth About Being A Black Girl Writer

Today for our Final Black History Month Guest Posting Series, Zakia Haughton will be sharing her experiences and influences as a black writer. You can find Zakia writing on her blog at

Influence… it’s something we all have and all have been affected by. It’s the friend who comes around whether we want it to or not. It’s the essence of life that moves us like a breeze or heavy wind, depending on the strength of the blow. What makes the difference is not merely how it’s delivered, but more so, how we use it.

As a Black Girl Writer, living in 21st Century America, it’s a beautiful time to be alive. Some may beg to differ, but the freedom we have to write without being jailed or imprisoned is definitely something to celebrate.

There was a time in our society, less than 100 years ago, where writing while black was revolutionary and even unlawful. Writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Amari Baraka, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, and many others paved the way for writers like me to have the opportunity to write freely and without apology.screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-11-24-52-am


To document our personal experiences of everyday life, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and stories of our ancestors. To give a voice to the characters that exist both in and out of our heads. To share with the world our creative expression through the literary form of words. To bring those innermost kept thoughts a life form no one could deny or take a way. Their courage, persistence, and collaborative effort gave Black Writers like me the freedom to read what you’re ready at this very moment.

One of my favorite writers in history will always be Zora Neale Hurston. She was heavily associated with the era known as The Harlem Renaissance, which gave birth to some of the most artistic influencers in Black History. This was a time where ‘black creatives’ found a way to express their everyday experiences in forms of arts, such as writing, singing, dancing, and drawing. The Harlem Renaissance sparked a creative explosion in many urban, black communities across the U.S., which shed light on the Black experience in America in such a beautiful, artistic way.

Among many of others, there is one quote from Zora Neale Hurston that empowered me to become the writer I am today, and has had a major impact on my life as my writing journey continues to unfold. It goes a little something like this…

“I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” – Zora Neale Hurston, excerpt from Dust Tracks On A Dirt Road

This quote sings sweet melodies to my Soul when I hear it! I remember reading this novel late in middle school, shortly after discovering another amazing read of hers called “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and thinking to myself, “I want that kind of confidence… to be able to write with conviction, fearlessly in the face of opposition. To be able to express myself in the form of words without fear of judgment or rejection. To be able to share my experiences with the world and have a knowing deep down on the inside that my experience matters. Yeah, I want that.”

I remember saying this to myself as I sat in my bedroom, laying across my crisp, pink sheets, basking in the possibility that this experience I was reading, this feeling I was feeling, this thought I was thinking, could all be my reality.

Zora gave me the courage to write, unapologetically. She gave me the confidence to know that what I have to say matters and is worth getting out of my head onto paper. Her words showed me that I could be proud of my blackness and my creativity, and use it for good, regardless of the color of my skin. My ancestor, my not-so-distant mentor, my symbol strength and Black Girl Magic, my Zora… through reading her works of art, I became empowered. Not just empowered to write my experiences, but to live out the full expression of who I AM.


My prayer is that, through my creative expression of life, I continue Ms. Hurston’s legacy and empower other Black girls, and all girls really, to live the fullest expression of themselves through writing and many other art forms. To know that what you think, feel, and have to say all matter. To know that someone wants to hear your voice. To know that regardless of our skin color, we were born to be great and express ourselves in beautiful, artistic ways.

Writers, artists, and creatives alike, let’s do what Zora told us… let’s not live by this world’s standards. Instead, let’s create our own standard, hold our heads up high, stand strong, write with confidence, and continue to sharpen our knives and excel at our craft.

Be Courageously Creative,




A Teachers Perspective

** I asked my sweet friend rose to share her perspective as a black educator during Black History Month. She currently teaches at the elementary level is a lover of The Lord and dedicated to her serving her communities.

“Black History is American History.” Words neatly placed on the bulletin board filled with biographies of Historic African Americans shout “Here WE are”.  As a child, I can vividly recall the lack of bulletin boards celebrating Black History during February in my school. I can remember few school programs where my school recognized that Black History is American History. The belief that good things came from people who looked like me, was not something that was invested in me by the school but by my mother and father.picture1

I am an African American woman teaching in a low-income school with majority African and African American students. I knew that I always wanted to be an educator who not only told my students that they can make history but that they come from people who have paved a way of redeeming history for the African American. This history includes people who are educated, people who overcome and people that resisted. The many figures that remain misrepresented in textbooks or hidden altogether. I have 180 days with my students. Those days are filled with academics, depositing positive character traits, and affirming their identities and personalities. These days are also filled with me inviting my students to embrace our history.

See something sparked in me as a young child when my mother who was a Jamaican Immigrant shared with me that Black History did not start with slavery, did not end with the Civil Rights Movement and is still being made today. There are many injustices in education, one of the major injustices being that Black History is not held in the same regard as American History in Urban Schools. You see we love to push curriculum that states Christopher Columbus discovered the land that was already inhabited by Native Americans. This same curriculum teaches that Abraham Lincoln desired freedom for slaves and fought to emancipate them because it was the “right” thing to do. Yet I teach majority African and African American students but there is no push for me to teach them about the legacy they come from. There is no professional development on why there is a differentiation between Black History and American History. There is no desire to express why there is a need for a Black History Month. I embrace Black History Month in my classroom not because I believe we should only spend 28 days discussing our history.rose

I believe it is an opportune time to push the necessity of Black History not only to the students who look like me but to the majority Caucasian staff who do not. There is something empowering for my students when I share with them stories of Fredrick Douglass who taught himself to read or Garret Morgan who invented the traffic light. There is something redeeming when I explain to them that slaves did not just obey their masters. When I look them in the eyes and remind them that we come to school to learn because there was and still is a time where education was such a great weapon that they would have been denied access to. When I share with them the truth that they can be something greater than their environment or the low expectations society places upon. When I encourage them to look towards examples like Jackie Robinson, Susan E. Goode or Harriet Tubman.

You see the world is full of narratives, that allow the growing minds of my students to develop their sense of self-worth or opportunity to be a contributing member of society. I believe part of my role as an educator is to be diligent and mindful of the narratives I place in front of my students and the examples I encourage them to glean from. I also believe part of my role as an African American educator is to faithfully remind my students that great things come from people who look like them.teaching-photo

When we fail to expose our students to images of black excellence, black resistance, black confidence and black perseverance we embed in them ideologies that these things do not exist in their culture or are just moments of the past. As mentioned I have 180 days with my students. Those days are filled with academics, depositing positive character traits, and affirming their identities and personalities. These days are also filled with me inviting my students to embrace our history. History that did not start with slavery, did not end with the Civil Rights Movement and is still being made today.

Black History Means – Guest Post


Black History Means to Me

Black History Month (n.): an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora; also known as African-American History Month

February is nationally recognized as Black History Month, usually on the first day of the month, but as a whole, not much else happens. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the entire month for the amazing achievements those before us accomplished? I certainly think so!

When I think about what black history means to me, I think about what all my ancestors had to endure for me to get to where I am today. All the prejudice and discrimination, which many times led to violent actions taken against them. All the fighting they had to do: physically, emotionally, and mentally. They worked so hard for equality, and we are still nowhere near their dreams.

When I think about what black history means to me, I think about how I could never have the strength or courage to do what my ancestors did. I think about how they fought so future generations could be viewed as equals, and obtain the same opportunities. I think about how much I have to thank them for.

To me, the meaning of black history cannot be summed up in one word, or even a phrase. I definitely will not do it justice, in what it means to me. In truth, it means so much more.


Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 7.40.56 PM.pngBlack history means pain.

Black history means strength.

Black history means courage.

Black history means suffering.

Black history means intelligence.

Black history means fear.

Black history means inspiration.


Black history means so many different things to so many different people. I believe it should be appreciated significantly more than it is, for in today’s society, it’s so easy to be made to feel ashamed for your skin color, or to feel misunderstood by the majority; however, people {including myself} need to remember that we are more than the color of our skin. We are more than the hair on our heads. We consist of the thoughts of our minds, the character of our souls, and the genuineness of our hearts. Our ancestors fought so hard to make that possible.



About Larissa

Larissa loves to travel and document her journeys on her blog. Her ultimate goal is to become a citizen of the world. She loves experiences new places, people and cultures. You can find her at the links below. 

Blog                                                                                     15822597_886440994829020_6115703183034128467_n







Why We Should Still Celebrate Black History Month

“Are you going to help me plan something for Black History Month?”  My way too excited co-worker asked.  To be honest, I was less than enthused.  It hadn’t been celebrated by the office in a couple years and then it was met with resistance.

“I’ll think about it,” I promised.

Actually, I didn’t have any plans for this February.  There was a time when my February was packed with Black History activities, such as lectures, films, and parades.   I was sure to attend at least one that included the food from the south, such as savory collard greens, candied sweet potatoes and crispy fried chicken.    However, I seemed to have lost steam.  I would blame it on having three children, but I should be doing more because of the children.  

Then a friend told me about the movie Hidden Figures.   She promised that it was excellent, but I still wanted to wait until it came to Netflix


“No,” she insisted over the phone, “Don’t wait.  Let me tell you what happened with my daughter.”   Her daughter is a nine-year-old African American.  She lowered her voice and sounded as if she was going to reveal some magic.  “The first time she took the MAP (school standardized tests),  she tested on grade level.”

“Fine.” I said.

“Okay, a few months later, we went to see Hidden Figures and she was mesmerized by it.   When we got home, she wanted to practice her math. She even said that she wanted to be a mathematician.”

“That’s nice.”   But I’m not swayed to spend 8 bucks a ticket.  

“So, she took the next round of MAP,” she continued, “And she tested 2 grade levels higher in math and 4 in reading.  I asked her what’s changed?  She said Hidden Figures.”

I spend a minute thinking about this.  As a clinician, I know that our thoughts are powerful.  As a Christian, I know that the Scripture says “as a man thinketh in his heart, he is.”  

“We’re going next week.”  I declared.



My oldest daughter is 11 years old and she is the complete package whether she believes it or not, but she tends to be unmotivated. I’m afraid that she is going to be the girl in back of a college lecture hall, chanting “C’s make degrees.”  In the  3rd and 4th grade, she loved math and science.  After she entered the 5th grade, something shifted and now she says that it is too hard.  So, I am hoping that she gets a whiff of magic.  

It was a Sunday and we settled in to watch Hidden Figures which stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Butler, and Janelle Monae.  The movie is brilliant in every way.  There were times the whole theater broke into cheers and times that we were hushed with pain.   It is the story of three African American women who worked as computers for NASA during the first space orbit.  The story centers around Katherine Johnson, who assisted with calculations for first USA orbit and later with the moon landing.  While I was engrossed in the movie, it did not escape me that my daughter was enjoying eating and paying attention to the people in the theater.  

On the car ride home, we broke down the experience but not in the same way.  

I wanted to discuss how the times have changed.  “Did you see how African Americans couldn’t use the public library?”

She wanted to discuss the people in the theatre who kept yelling at the screen.

I wanted to discuss how Mary Johnson wasn’t just discriminated against because she was African-American, but also because she was a woman.

She wanted to discuss, the lady seated in front of us with the mac and cheese.

I wanted to discuss how the women held on to themselves.  Every day they worked with people who didn’t believe they were competent, but they encouraged each other and didn’t allow it to seep into their souls.

She wanted to discuss how good the nachos tasted.


Oh well, at least we had mother-daughter time.   There was a pause as we rode in silence and then the clouds parted.

“I think that I want to be an engineer.  Do you think that I can be one?”

“Yes, I know that you can.”

She had found her inspiration.


Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 10.53.43 AM.png
The Real Hidden Figures




Nichole Gause is a lot of things, but most importantly she is a wife, mama, and a child of God.   Her blog is the More Abundant Life can be found at

Octavia Butler and I

Melanie joins us today writing on the way Octavia Butler has influenced her own creative life. Melanie is a New England Born blogger, Speculative Fiction writer, and Mixed Lesbian who often includes LGBT and Black themes in her work and blog. You can find her at Eclectic Little Dork  . All writing in this post is the opinion and creative talents of Melanie.


I’ve been an avid reader ever since I learned to read as a young girl. I’ve devoured books with large page counts in a single day, only getting up to eat and use the bathroom because I was so caught up in what I was reading. And in my reading travels, I discovered everything from the classics like Jane Austen and H.G. Wells to modern writers such as Julie Anne Peters, Nnedi Okorafor, and The Grand Dame of Science Fiction, Octavia E. Butler.

I’ve also devoured a lot of different poetry during my reading travels, including Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Tupac Shakur (Yes, he was both a poet and a fairly controversial rapper during his life. And yes his work is very, very good. I suggest finding some if you can.), Emily Dickinson, and many others.

All of this while trying to find being Black means to me as a Mixed/Black woman and as a woman on the LGBT+ spectrum of romantic and sexual orientation. And, since around the age of 12 or 13, what that meant for my desire to be a writer.

Of these many influences, the most important in my eyes is the Grand Dame of Science Fiction and award-winning author, Octavia Butler (1947-2006).


Butler wrote about racism and what it meant to be Black, had an interestingly almost most terse style that was still highly descriptive and evocative, and some of her work is even considered Literary Fiction in some crowds rather than Science Fiction. I won’t go into the last thing except to say that I feel ignoring her work as Science Fiction misses the point, and serves to limit fiction written by Black people instead of allowing what we write, no matter our nationality, to reflect the diversity allowed in work by writers who aren’t considered POC (People of Color or those who are not white.). If anything, I would categorise her writing as Literary Science Fiction, because it fosters that connection between the Literary Fiction and what her work was and is sold as mostly, Science Fiction.

I’ve read, was, and continue to be influenced by many writers. But reading Butler at 24, I’m now coming up on my 26th birthday this month, was a sort of revelation. Within reading the first book I ever read by her, Dawn, the first in her Lilith’s Brood or Xenogenesis novels, I learned the following:

  • Science Fiction writers can have very to the point writing, choosing each word to build the overall picture and help the reader see what the writer is trying to get across.
  • The story is the most important thing. Especially dealing with something that matters to you, like being Black and LGBT in my case, in order to get readers on board with your work.
  • Writing about what matters to you is how to make dealing with tough issues, and things like writing concise and evocative prose easier to write.

All or some of these may seem obvious, but a lot of societies, especially society in the US, is often straight and when not focused on straight people, white Christian focused to the point that many budding writers have trouble writing about people like them. That may be Black, Latino, Asian, Muslim, LGBT+, disabled or not, or any combination of those things. Because what we see is White characters as the norm unless the writer mentions otherwise, and sometimes even when the writer does say otherwise. Look up the issues people had with Rue in the Hunger Games movies despite her descriptions in the book series.

And while I certainly knew that I wanted to focus on Black LGBT+ characters in my own work, maybe adding other POC characters as main characters later on. How much I not only wanted but needed to do that in order for my writing to flourish the way I wanted my writing to flourish hadn’t quite clicked yet. I had finished or made progress on a lot of fairly smaller projects, including a Gothic Horror novel that featured an interracial Lesbian relationship in the early 20th century; a Fantasy story featuring a lesbian relationship; and a modern Horror story featuring an interracial/interspecies lesbian relationship between a demon who looked white and a Black woman. All of which were among my favourites.

But still, something had been missing until I read that novel, and later, the entire series. I had been writing the characters that mattered to me and about things that mattered to me but hadn’t quite dedicated myself to including characters like that in every story I wrote. Odd though it is, you could say that Octavia Butler and the novel Dawn opened my eyes to how important that is for me as a writer. Cementing in my mind that I, like any good writer hope to reach a wide audience, but ultimately had to write for myself as a Black woman and as an LGBT+ woman. And to a smaller extent, felt and still feel a desire to help people see that living at the intersection of two or more identities is not only normal but makes for interesting stories.

If you would like to support Melanie’s writing please head to her  blog and read her posts. I often talk about race and/or orientation in one form or another. I also Tweet about writing and Bullet Journals and have an Instagram account where I post mainly Bullet JournalⓇ related pictures.


If you are interested in contributing during Black History Month please contact me


Beauty for Ashes

Isaiah 61:3
“and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

**Donation Information is at the bottom of the page **

When I began to verbalize my opinions on race, LGBTQ rights, immigration, healthcare and many more hot topics I saw the change in my relationships. I watched people dump me like a bad boyfriend. I was deleted blocked pretty soon after vocalizing my opinions.  As you likely read in The Atlantic Article people started to pull their funding left and right. The year before I had worked with a fundraising coach to establish a foundation of support while we serve here in Ghana. Through emails, skype conversations I had built our foundation well enough that money was no longer an everyday worry. Then I posted #BlackLivesMatter attached with an article about the shooting of Tamir Rice. A young boy just a few years older with the similar complexion of my oldest child. I could no longer call myself a christ follower and refuse to acknowledge the injustices that people worldwide are facing the system is not working.I’m so thankful for the people that patiently spoke with me, educated me and helped me wake up.   From there I watched the foundation I had worked so hard to form crumble to the ground.  My foundation was nonexistent and therefore my financial support was nowhere to be found. You can’t email asking for more support from the very pool of people who try to revoke your salvation. For the next year, I struggled with medical bills, work costs and affording just day to day necessities all while trying to successfully single parent and help navigate the infancy of  Family First. We had some successful months of generosity and other months where I had no idea if we could even afford vitamins.When Priscilla was diagnosed with Tuberculosis for the second time we tried to fundraise for a car to use but here medical bills were so expensive every last dollar when to pay the hospital. By July we were facing eviction so our landlords family could move into our then apartment. So again we pleaded with people to help us afford a new home. In October we moved but between then we faced two more hospital admissions, a broken arm and I got malaria. By the time we moved into our new home we had no money and I was running low on hope. I continued to vocalize my distaste for Donald Trump knowing that it was unpopular. img_7013

Throughout the primaries, I vocally expressed I would be voting for whoever won the democratic nominee as it became clear Donald Trump would win the republican primary. I felt and still feel Donald Trump’s views are racist, dehumanizing, sexist and extremely dangerous to everyone that is not a straight white able-bodied male. Raising black children with special needs in a country that rely on public health funding I knew that my voice needed to be heard even if it meant losing the rest of my funding and support in Ghana. A few days before the election my social media was flooded with pro-life trolls, neo nazi’s, and a slew of other hate that began to attack my family. I spent that day in my room with a tablet on twitter, my phone on Instagram my laptop on my blog/facebook. I had 3 friends who all day helped me delete, block and report. I had just moved, I was emotionally and physically exhausted with those who claimed Jesus.  It was awful and a small glimpse of what hate is thrown at people not in privileged groups on a daily basis.


Post-election our funding was cut even more after I sent emails to my congressmen and encouraged friends and family to do so in response to ACA repeal and the immigration ban. Money was so tight I began selling some of our furniture, photography equipment, clothes etc just to make ends meet. I felt like Job being tested in so many ways. I kept asking God where he was and why he wasn’t providing. How could I successfully help families in Kumasi if my own was about to suffer at because of my “activism”? Had I compromised my two precious daughters for the sake politics? Or would I compromise my children by being silent?  I began to doubt whether I had made the right decision. I know all along I did,  but in some stressful moments, I truly considered stopping.  Satan had really planted a seed of self-doubt and failure. I was lucky to find a few groups of Christians who like me were passionate about loving our neighbor.  I knew Jesus my savior was passionate about loving our neighbor and directly calls His followers to speak out loud when injustice is present.  and I knew even if it cost me every dollar I could not choose silence.


When Emma approached me about the article. My first prayer was “so you are really asking me to go all or nothing.. uhh ok Jesus. Is my vocalism not enough now.. am I going to put my wounds on blast with the risk of being torn apart again.” Reluctantly I agreed, terrified once again we would lose it all this time. On Friday, something awful happened to me resulting in a sprained ankle and being pit pocketed while on my way to work. After getting checked out at the hospital I got into a taxi unable to walk from a junction to the house. In the car, my Mom face -timed me out of the blue (we usually chat on the weekend) I began to weep, huffing and puffing as I felt the world had knocked the wind out of me. Someone had broken my laptop; my tablet was crushed and they stole almost $100 in cash. ( I want you to understand, here people don’t steal just to steal it’s an awful cycle of poverty. I in no way condone theft but I also realize when you can’t provide basic necessities desperation and survival take over) But now, how was I going to feed my family, pay our bills for the next week? Through tears, I told my mom I felt like God was trying to punish me for following him. I felt alone, angry and honestly resentful of Ghana. I felt angry at the people who had pulled their funding, I felt angry at God and angry at the man who had tried to hurt me. I went home took some pain medication and let a friend watch the girls while I rested my ankle and prayed hard that God would provide our upcoming needs and that my ankle would heal quickly.

Swollen Ankle Featuring my furry child Douglas.

Yesterday morning was like a dream. I watched as messages rolled in praying over my family, our organization, and our finances. I watched strangers who 24 hours before didn’t know I existed offer to donate to help cover outstanding bills and needs. A miracle is what yesterday was… to all who started following us, praying for us and are working to help us recover financially words don’t adequately describe my gratefulness. I can’t stop ugly cry with relief, joy and a hew found hope for the things God has planned or us in Ghana. You all are such wonderful amazing people and I am so excited to be friends with you all and to see the way your prayers and partnership bear fruit here in Ghana.

If you would like more information on our family and Family First – Ghana PLEASE email me

If you would like to financial partner or make a one-time donation you can do so Here here or through PayPal:

 ***Please indicate in the memo box “Liddy Family – Ghana ” ***

Our Business Partner Peach Leaves Boutique Also designs this Africa Prayer Necklace and Cross bracelets 100% of the profit from these two categories goes to our family. ( Necklace is $20 + shipping and Cross Bracelets vary)

Peach Leaves Boutique – Africa Necklace screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-12-40-18-pm

Peach Leaves Boutique – Cross Bracelets


If you are a business owner/church or would like to find a way to partner with Family First – Ghana please email me We are currently working with 5 families and a few have unmet needs we are hoping to cover!



Kicking Off Black History Month

In textbooks, usually, history-related books are chronological. If textbooks were written more accurately black history would be embedded in every unit. Instead once a year February is dedicated to those who despite facing deep levels of oppression overcame creating a better, kinder more progressive society. This month I will be highlighting some wonderful black friends who will contribute to my blog. They will include their thoughts, favorite historical figures, the influence of black culture and several other topics on my blog this month. I hope to continue this to a monthly contribution to not only help educate but to uplift POC and their talents/businesses.

For this blog post, I wanted to touch on my favorite and most influential black writer, Toni Morrison.

Toni Morrison’s writing dramatically influenced my love of reading. I could soak up her words every day. The book The Bluest Eye  was eye-opening to confronting my own racism and bias. It was introduced to me my senior year of high school in a modern lit class. Each day we were assigned 1-2 chapters to read and discuss in the next class. I picked it up and 10 hours later finished it cover to cover. I read it twice during the time we were assigend it. Pecola’s ( the main character) character resonted inside of me while also challenging me to see outside of myself and the things I had been taught about racism.  Her writing spoke to me in a whole new way. The way she wrote about such controversial topics Racism, White Supremacy, beauty standards, incest, molestation was earth shattering. I had never read a book that could deliver such a message while also telling such a compelling story. I was hooked immediately to her writing. A few months later I had completed every novel she had written. To this day The Bluest Eye has traveled with me to over 16 countries. I reread it often each time with a whole new appreciation. Her work introduced me to other authors. I know otherwise, I would have likely never been abe to experience authors such as Maya Angelou, Paule Marshall and Alice Walker. Since that day in modern lit class I’ve found myself drawn to more diverse authors thus enhancing my love of reading while also allowing me to dismantle idealogy that I have been taught along the way.

This week I hope to have two other contributors to talk about their favorite parts of black history and culture. If you would like to contribue please feel free to email me at