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I Wasn't Supposed to Be Here

If you read my book, Stranger Danger, then you already know what I mean when I say, I wasn't supposed to be here, and by here, I mean in any functioning role in life, let alone in a leadership position. If you haven't read my book, Stranger Danger, then what are you waiting for? Just kidding, no pressure to purchase the book, but I deeply encourage it if you want to truly appreciate all of the amazingness you'll be experiencing through this blog and my youtube channel, "Leading with Lived Experience." I wasn't supposed to be actively thriving in leadership because statistically, I should be dead, in prison, maybe experiencing homelessness and/or extraordinary poverty and relying on one social program after another. My life experiences include juvenile hall -twice-, foster care, county jail, gang involvement, drug dealing, sexual exploitation, multiple thoughts of suicide, becoming a teen mom, hopelessness and feeling and believing I was worthless and would never amount to anything.


My story, in short, is by default experiencing the extraordinary consequences of our society's deep-rooted hatred, criminalization, and punishment of poverty and race, as well as the entrapment of predators who lie in wait to exploit my vulnerability as a child in the foster care system and those situated to respond and protect or support, missing opportunity after opportunity to do just that.


Based on this unfavorable life description, I should not be running a major organization, serving on powerful boards and commissions, or leading issues that I was once impacted by, let alone being a sought after speaker, trainer, coach and mentor. When people see me today, they see someone who is thriving, happy and living life unapologetically. They see a woman in a happy marriage, to the most incredible man, with the most beautiful and brilliant children. What they do not see are the battle scars I wear from fighting tooth and nail to demand my place in a world that told me from the beginning, that I wasn't smart enough, good enough, white enough, and worthy



enough. 


What you do not see, is the trauma I have relive everyday when I advocate and fight for children like me, who were either stripped from their parents arms because they were too poor to give them the American dream, or because they had to experience the extraordinary consequences of abuse that stem from our society's inability to address the systemic issues that are plaguing our communities.


When people see me, they do not see the 14 year old girl that sold drugs and was in a gang and did whatever was necessary to survive the world she was born into. When people see me, they definitely do not see the girl who was sexually exploited, raped, abused, discarded and who begged God daily to just end it all.

 

What you get to see and enjoy is the strong, resilient, picture of what many would call a success story, as if resilience was my birth right and strength, the necessary ingredient to be Black, poor and fortunate in this reality we call life. 


When I hear the word resilient, I take a deep breath and brace myself for the horror story that comes before it. And when I hear the word strong, I grieve, knowing that the individual wearing that badge, had to fight a fight they were never supposed to win, but somehow came out victorious. However, we're out here, leading and allowing our lived experience, our expertise, and proximity to the issues to drive how we show up, advocate and transform everything we touch.


Through this blog,  I'll bring you a rich tapestry of articles, reflections, and guest contributions from a spectrum of lived experience leaders hailing from various sectors. Each post aims to explore the personal journeys of these individuals, shedding light on the challenges they've faced, the victories they've celebrated, and the insights they've gained along their leadership path. Our content is crafted to not only inform and inspire but also to provoke thought and encourage dialogue among our readers.


"Leading with Lived Experience with Dr. Charity" is more than just a blog; it's a community and a rallying cry for anyone aspiring to lead with authenticity, break new ground, and advocate for inclusivity and fairness in all areas of their professional lives. We invite you to delve into our posts, share your thoughts, and join us on this enlightening path toward transformational leadership. Together, let's embark on a journey of discovery, growth, and collective empowerment.



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