I am Makeda Jeffrey- Brizan and I am an author. I hail from the parish of St. David’s, specifically Vincennes and Corinth.
I was mute until three, however, once I began speaking, I read almost simultaneously. Writing came inherently as well, so much so, that I didn’t realize it was a gift. Despite being first published at age twelve, and winning numerous literary competitions, I assumed everyone had equal ability.
My parents were both educators and so learning was of utmost priority. At fourteen, my Dad passed away. Besides losing a parent, I was also now void of the person who listened to me and encouraged me to have a voice. Additionally, I was living in a physically abusive home with my mother’s new husband. My opinions and feelings were stifled. It was pounded into my head that I was a difficult child and the abuse was discipline. I began to exist in a zombified state, physically present but mentally withdrawn. Those formative teen years were traumatic and the emotional effects lingered into adulthood.
I used to question myself every step of the way, but nowadays I live by the mantra, “Be you, the world will adjust”. After years of attempting to conform and fit into everyone’s ideal, it occurred to me that I had it all wrong. I stopped the unhealthy self-doubt and practiced trusting and celebrating myself.
I recently launched a children’s anthology entitled The Black Magic Collection. This compilation is intended to promote pride, increase self-awareness, combat negative stereotypes, and enlighten children of color about the greatness within. My books address matters like confidence, racism, colorism, ethics, and Black history. Thus far, two are published and eight more are underway, capping the project off at ten.
If I were to credit a person for my accomplishments, it would be my mother. From the inception, she recognized and nurtured my talent to pen. She found unconventional ways for me to keep writing and never missed an opportunity to promote my work. Outside of her, strangely, all that I am is owed to my negative experiences. Because of what I endured and how it affected me, I felt a fervent need to use my skill to mentor children. In the words of Frederick Douglas, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”. I placed other endeavors on hold because this one tugged most intensely at my heart. Although my books have been received quite positively, had I not earned even a dollar from them, knowing that they have a positive effect on children would have been accomplishment enough.
My favorite memory of Grenada would simply be daily life amongst a culture so rich and vibrant. I lived there from birth to eleven and although I traveled the world, I’ve yet to encounter anywhere so ethnically unique. Grenada is special because of its natives. I’ve always been awed at the many characters. Even now when I visit, I just sit inconspicuously and people watch. From them, I draw the biggest inspirations to use towards my craft. In fact, aspects of Grenada is sprinkled all throughout my work!
We’re all familiar with the quote, “Children should be seen and not heard”. I’d advise future generations to erase that mindset. That mentality drives home the perception that children have no value and should remain muted. There’s nothing more inaccurate and it is my greatest wish that self-expression and individuality be encouraged in our youth. The younger generation ought to know that it’s okay to be unique, it is their prerogative to speak up and be heard, and they too are significant and worthy of respect!
I don’t have all the answers, nor do I have it all together, what I am certain of is that we all have the power to turn our trials into triumphs and to rise above anything expected to destroy us. I believe my divine purpose is to use my experiences to help others heal, specifically children. In that true, persistent, and resilient Grenadian nature, I won’t stop going until a profound impact is felt!
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