Mary J. Blige has overcome an abusive relationship, drugs, sexual abuse and self-hatred to become a Grammy Award winning artist. There are other girls with big dreams that are dealing with issues that may not be as extreme but their internal scars are just as real.
Rasheda Williams, who was bullied and went through struggles, credits her first summer job’s supervisor for teaching her about integrity and being steadfast. Those teachings reset her life’s direction, and even though Rasheda’s boss wasn’t in a formal mentor program she was her mentor.
Rasheda said, “My supervisor from my first summer job took me under her wing.”
Rasheda, founder and chief empowering officer of the Empowered Flower Company is now taking girls under her wing, which simply means her guidance and care through mentorship.
Just like Rasheda, Mary J., has taken women under her care and uses her testimony through song:
In my life
Now it’s time
Knowledge to you
All my sisters
My troubled sisters
This is my
Gift to you (1-12)
In the opening lines of Mary J’s song, “Good Woman Down,” from her album The Breakthough she shares her struggles without naming them by name and lets the listener know she is triumphant. But what I love about Mary J., her liberation wasn’t enough she wanted to pay it forward to other women.
Unlike Mary J., who empowers women through the lyrics of her songs, Rasheda empowers girls through a series of conversations as a mentor.
Rasheda has been a mentor for 15 years in Detroit, Michigan where she coaches girls to move past any of life’s negative circumstances in order to reach their goals.
Rasheda said, “My vision is for young people to not only live above and beyond life’s drama but to also use their personal power to help others along the way.”
After serving as a mentor for over a decade, other parents began requesting guidance on bullying and tools to keep their children motivated throughout the year.
Rasheda stated, “Over the years, parents would ask me for advice to help their children with self-esteem and issues related to bullying and social exclusion. I wanted to start a company that would help transform the way young people relate to themselves and one another.”
She continued, “Young people often act out because they don’t feel connected to one another. Many haven’t yet developed the skills to express their feelings positively…
Deep down, many of them just want to be accepted. I think it’s important for adults to create those spaces where youth can be self expressed and heard – without judgment. That’s what Empowered Flower Girl is all about.”
Empowered Flower Girl offers workshops and programs to girls and adults. But this Fall, Rasheda will publish her first book, Be EmPOWERed: How to Live Above & Beyond Life’s Drama.” It’s a girl’s guide to living powerfully.
Rasheda said, “In life, we will encounter drama – from the loss of a friendship or loved one to a bad grade on a test. But it’s all about how we get through the challenges that matters most.”
Similarly, in Mary J’s song, No More Drama she explains that bad times will come and go, but you have to be determined not to succumb to the drama that sometimes accompany those bad times:
Go through ups and downs
Nowhere and all the time
You wouldn’t be around
Or maybe I like the stress
Cause I was young and restless
But there was long ago I don’t wanna cry no more
No more pain (no more pain)
No more game (no more game messin with my mind)
No drama (no more drama in my life) (17 -26)
I am glad Rasheda and Mary J., are using their voices in an unapologetic way to #DoMoreThanScratchTheSurface.
By Tara J., the advocate with a hip hop twist