The Awakening (Author Interview)

Q. The Awakening looks like a great self-journey.  What can you tell us about it?
The Awakening follows the harrowing story of my life as a “Colored” born in South Africa, who has lived a life that few would envy but many will see themselves in. Born “Cape Colored”, as they say in South Africa, I am of mixed race, which made me a target of much ire or ill-will home and abroad as an Immigrant.

My struggles go beyond my race. Born to a man who lived much of his life in the closet, my familiarity with secrets and shame became all too apparent as my life progressed. From sexual abuse to homelessness; to a move to the United States, and then bad marriage; my life has been paved by traumas and struggles.

This poignant memoir not only details my struggles but also aims to inspire others. Although my own story is riddled with unspeakable pain, it also offers insights into how I rose above the trauma and heartache and found a path forward—one that lends itself to help other trauma victims and advocate  for their needs and well-being. After becoming a Domestic worker, I experienced a modern form of abuse. The abuse continued with a trade. This continuous abuse opened an opportunity for me to have two bills written and passed, making it law.

I started my company “My Character References LLC” after losing my place on referral sites following some negative reviews that did not accurately represent me as a professional worker. I came to America as an immigrant, and following my divorce had to take work as a domestic worker. I joined online sites that utilized a referral basis, and when I received these negative comments, my positive reviews were hidden or even deleted, and I had no recourse.

I decided to use my personal experiences to assist others in similar situations. I realize that many people in this industry were minorities, people of color and immigrants. My Character References is a website that maintains employee histories for domestic workers, home health aides, and anyone working in the personal care industries, more specifically immigrants who might not be able to get due process. My goal is for all workers to have a place where they can feel safe and can keep their reviews, both good and bad, alive without fear of their profiles being deleted altogether. Not only did I make a difference for immigrants and essential workers with ways to protect them, I also wrote a book called “The Awakening” where I share my story to help others in similar situations.

Q. That is an amazing cover.  Can you tell us a little about it?

The cover represents two particularly important flags. They have a different meaning for me. The South African flag, the green, blue, white, yellow and black; my dad was a closet bisexual man until his passing in 2005. South African is also known as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ The Rainbow Nation was the name given to South Africa by Archbishop Desmond Tutu after its first democratic election in 1994 since apartheid ended. It is a metaphor for the coming together of all different people who live in South Africa, a nation with 11 official languages. The constantly changing microclimates give a feeling of entering a completely different world constantly, all within one country, South Africa.
The American flag, the stars, blue and red; In San Francisco, where I reside, also known as the Bay Area; the Rainbow colors represent the rainbow flag as a rainbow that is used as a symbol. This flag is in honor of my dad, who was a closet gay man, that later became bisexual. This flag awards me the peace that I lost for many years, being ashamed of having a ‘gay’ father. Particularly for the “colored” community of the Western Cape, I share my story growing up, and what are the consequences of not allowing the rights of the LGBTQ, how my siblings, especially my brothers, have been damaged and how we still suffer silently.
‘Story of a South African American’ - the title: I came to the USA in 2003 with my then 10-year-old daughter. Both of us became US citizens in 2011.
For me, these two flags needed to tell my story. The story of the ‘untold secrets’ and how America has liberated me, Empowered me. That was when I openly could talk to my dad about being gay and how he suffered all his life until the age of 62 when he passed.

Q. What will readers get out of your book?

What readers will get out of this book is what I call a ‘road map to reality’ When I came to the USA on a K1 visa, also known as a 90 visa, or Fiancé visa, I had no idea what was waiting for me. When I met my ‘American love’ I let all the ‘common sense hit a brain freeze. Of course, it is America, The Superpower of the World. I forgot that they too have laws, questions; they are a country with people like me. I let it all slide. And of course, what I learnt is that the grass is greener on the other side, but it needs to be watered. When I wrote this book, I wanted to create it for another ‘me’  had I read a book like this, I would have been well prepared, and I would have made better decisions. This book also talks about the many resources which I had as an immigrant that no one told me about. I did not realize that America did have protections for people like me.

Q. Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing The Awakening?

The biggest challenge for me had to go to a place I did not want to go. But to find therapy and face my fears and challenges head-on, I had to go back to that place; the place where I for 50 years, did not want to go to. I can also say, child trauma, child abuse, and dysfunctional family lifestyle do follow us. It followed me. What is normal for many is not normal for most. What I mean is that more people do not go through abuse, ‘the normal’ that I am referring to. For me to move on and accept that I did not choose my abusers, I had to write this book. We do not have to look too far to see, that sexual assault, abuse, power, and money is the ‘new norm’. The lawmakers around the world are the abusers.

Q. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I grew up in a big family surrounded by many challenges. From living with a father who was a closet gay, to the experiencing sexual abuse at a young age, and facing a divorce and becoming homeless, I have overcome all of these throughout my life.

I along with my young daughter moved to the U.S.A on a K1 visa and experienced a life turning struggle. I divorced and once again experienced a different type of abuse. This opened the doors for abuse on a higher level of power, harassment, and sexual assault, except this time it received a stamp of approval.

I realized that human right is highly politicized. I began representing the many immigrants who migrate to the U.S.A to live the dream such as myself to bring the long-awaited change. This beginning was the result of My Character Reference, a storage database for people, specifically immigrants and people of color to be entrepreneurs. To find comfort and deal with my trauma, as a Domestic Worker, and having cried out for help, for protection in private homes as a Domestic Worker, I successfully got a bill authored and it became law. I found writing this book, helped me face the shame and relieve me from the sickness I suffered, I no longer feel sick, because my secret is out.

Q. Where can readers find out more about your work?

The Awakening is for anyone who has ever felt like they did not belong, for anyone who has ever been victimized, and for anyone who seeks inspiration and hope after trauma. I turned the layers of abuse and exploitation into a solution; an online storage database called My Character References Where the book is available to purchase. A great way to read briefs of my story is on you can place an order.