CREATIVE WRITING FOR JUSTICE – MAYBE IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY
Welcome back, everybody! Today, I am thrilled to be presenting a special guest author, Raye Mitchell, Esq. Raye, who is also my first cousin on my mother’s side, is excited to share the story of her literary journey and other adventures.
I have considered myself a storyteller and writer all my life in one form or another. In spite of this, a different question is when did I decide to go public with this passion and persistent drive to be a writer of non-fiction and fiction works and why?
Several years ago my inside voice that craved to be a writer succeeded in overtaking my outside voice that consistently focused on perfecting my skills as an entrepreneur, businesswoman, and attorney. Upon reflection, it is now clear that I had been fully engaged as a creative writer all the time by merging my professional commitment to advocating, justice, and fairness by writing about my experiences with the civil justice system and persuading juries to return justice for my clients in situations of injustice.
PB: Why did you want to expand your journey as a writer?
A lot of us believe, like I did, that while we have a writer hidden within our spirit that is yearning to have that creative urge unleashed, we had to wait for some moment to announce its birth. I was wrong. My job and my career have always been focused on creative storytelling in other forums like business and law. Then, one day, I discovered that I had a duty to unite my passion and that absolute desire to just get something out of your head and into the real world by focusing on creative writing as a means to help people find justice, have their voices heard, and their stories told.
In my case, the signs and call to take action on those secret dreams are ever present in our lives. Sometimes, they are subtle; sometimes they ride in like a fifty-foot tsunami. I think my “ah-hah” moment came over the course of several years of seemingly unrelated defining moments. Some I remember; some are more a murky blur at this time. I remembered one day in March 2014; I was hit with an invisible fifty-foot tsunami to just engage in creative writing out loud. It was a defining moment.
PB: Can you describe that defining moment when you decided to be a full-time writer?
Yes. The moment is as fresh in my mind as if it had happened today. It happened around 2010. Inspired by my humble encounter with an apparently homeless woman, Margie, I began assembling a collection of words of self-respect and success from notable female role models, past and present, and produced an anthology based on quotes to inspire and inform. The story of Margie first appeared in my first major book entitled, The Evolution of Brilliance: Voices Celebrating the Importance of Women” (ISBN: 0-97-86658-2-1).
The story of Margie began outside a high profile restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Margie approached me outside of this very expensive restaurant. For some reason, Margie, who appeared to be homeless, singled me out of a group of at least twenty people. Looking me directly in the eye, she said, “Can you help me?” She was carrying a cup meant to collect loose change. Assuming myself to be polite and assuming she only sought money, I turned to leave and simply said, “Sorry. I cannot help tonight.” I turned to leave. Margie stepped in closer, and the men in my group started to make a protective move, but we all stopped. Margie then said, “Can I ask you something?”
“Yes,” I replied. Without hesitation, she added, “How can you say you cannot help me when you do not know what help I need?”
I stopped, and for the first time that night, I looked into Margie’s eyes and made a personal connection, realizing that she may have just been trying to advance her life utilizing the only tools she had at her disposal. I said, “You know, you are right. What help do you need?” All Margie wanted was prayer and the chance to be counted as a person in this world as she strived to rebuild her life. Even though I was a stranger and she knew nothing about me, I was humbled that she entrusted me with her simple request for help. Margie’s story and my decision to be a published writer thus came to life in 2011.
PB: What are you most passionate about in your writing?
The story of Margie and the Evolution of Brilliance is where I launched into the reality that I can advocate for justice through creative writing, writing both non-fiction and fiction, and still be a creative writer. Free of the internal judgments and harsh criticisms we launch upon ourselves, as a writer who dares to put her thoughts on paper or the Internet for the world to see, we are exposing our secret selves and opening our safe spaces to public scrutiny and comment. I decided over several years ago that I could own and release the inter-storyteller locked inside of me that had been present since I was a young girl by being a published writer. I call it creative justice writing.
PB: What do you mean by creative justice writing?
Creative justice writing is about writing to inspire and celebrate personal courage change outcomes by telling the stories of those people that do not always have a voice. In my stories, I strive to educate, entertain and advocate for young woman and girls to be the champion of their success. I currently write practical nonfiction works but will release my first fiction work in 2018.
I am excited that I have two new books coming out this year and working on a third. Soon, I am expecting to review the final print file for my book “When They Go Low. ‘We Go High. How Women of Color Master the Art of Persuasion to Win Big Battles.”
Coincidently timed with the release of “What Happened” by Hillary Rodham Clinton, my book goes in a different direction. Applying the lessons learned from leaders like Michelle Obama, and addressing the needs of millions of women of color, influencers, and persuaders, this book is about cracking the code on how Black women master persuasion, influence, negotiations, and life in general.
In this book, I share some of the secrets of what it takes to maintain integrity when locked in tough negotiations, critical battles, and the wide range of power struggles that we encounter every day, to advance ourselves.
My second book is a non-fiction work supporting our young Black women and girls. It is entitled ‘Invisible Radically Changing the Game for Young Black Women and Girls.’
Make no mistake, our young Black women and girls are under siege. They are incredibly brilliant, impressive and engaging young women, but are required to meet and beat the challenges of not just ‘disappearing’ and being rendered ‘irrelevant.’ In addition to growing strong as young people, and as young women, they have to rise above negative stereotypes, negative media messages and a real world sense that no one sees them as being vital next-generation global leaders.
However, in the words of Tracee Ellis Ross, when accepting the honor of her first Golden Globe award for her role in ABC’s, “Black-ish,” she said:
“This is for all of the women, women of color, and colorful people whose stories, ideas, and thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important. But, I want you to know that I see you. We see you.”
Invisible No More is not a call to action, but it presents a plan of action so that our young Black women and girls will be seen. It is inspirational in scope and practical in implementation of innovative solutions that will support young Black women and girls and those agencies that support them to rise-up and lead change.
Raye Mitchell, Esq., is the Chief Learning Officer and Dean of Executive Leadership Development at the Winning Edge Institute. A graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business (MBA), Ms. Mitchell is an experienced mediator, arbitrator, and an expert in negotiations, conflict resolution, and bridge-building. The Winning Edge Institute provides negotiation training, consulting, advising, and coaching in negotiations, mediation, and interventions on workplace conflict matters, business diplomacy, and deal-making. With a focus on accelerating women and women of color as global influencers and global leaders in negotiations and dispute resolution, Raye Mitchell can be reached for speaking events and keynotes on matters about young Black women and girls.