Updated: Mar 15, 2021
I grew. I experienced. I learned. I unlearned. And that resulted in me taking action. Which action? My business. I got back to what I knew which was writing, but I decided to do more too.
In my learning and unlearning, I recognized that as a black men, I had to be more outward with my support of black women. So I decided to reinvent the idea of Women Crush Wednesdays by calling it Women Crushing It Wednesdays. And instead of posting pictures of strangers on Wednesdays, I decided to share pictures and interviews of women whom I found to be inspirational.
So, on August 15th 2020, as the pandemic was raging throughout the world, I contacted LA Wade.
I had been invited to a BBQ at her place about a week prior and there, folks shared about various topics and I just loved how opened she was about herself and her story. It was an energy that I could connect with.
On the 15th, I sent her a text letting her know about my idea for WCW and she was so excited, she asked me if I could make it to her place that same night. I was shocked, but I agreed to go. So I drove there and she met me outside as I parked my car. She invited me in her car and we went for a ride. We drove from her place to Hunter’s Landing. During that conversation, we found out about each other. Her working behind the scenes on Naija Wives of Toronto and me attempting to move to Atlanta the year prior. And from there, I started the interview.
You said you grew up in Sauga, right?
I did. I did
Where were you born? Were you born in Sauga?
I was born in Queensway General which is now the Trillium by Sherway. So in terms of how I grew up, it’s a completed question. As you know, I grew up being sexually abused and molested quite young and eventually leaving home around 16. Before I moved out, I went to my mother and wrote her a letter explaining why I was moving out. She was very understanding and said that I could come home anytime. So with her blessing, I moved out. My first apartment was a basement apartment. And you know, what does a 16 year old do with their own apartment?
What does a 16 year old do with their own apartment?
Well, the first thing this 16 year old did was work because she had to pay her bills because she learned about rent and utilities and all these different things you’re responsible for when living on your own. I worked a lot of retail jobs. Sometimes, I drive back around the places that I lived throughout Toronto trying to relive the stories of my life. So when I think about that place, I think about the first of many experiences.
We stopped there because we had arrived at Hunter’s Landing. She got out of the car to pick up her food. I waited inside. In the midst of the pandemic, that place was packed. Seeing the restaurant like that made my skin crawl. Shortly after, she was back in with a bag of food and we were back to our interview.
I remember when I was first exposed to Public Enemy at an event in Rexdale or Jane & Finch where I first encountered the Israelites. Not the same kind of Israelites we see today. But they did expose me to God’s people and I always felt that I had a calling in my heart. Being on my own gave me that independence. But I busied myself because being alone reminded me of my own trauma. So I responded to invites to hang out, which tend to put me in high risk situations, like me meeting you. I don’t know you, but I just trust that whatever is supposed to come in my life is supposed to teach me something.
Would you say that the exposure to the Israelites is what started your faith?
No, my faith came from my mother. She’s a catholic. And God was always a part of the conversation with her. She sang in the choir. But I hated catholicism. Since I was very young, I just saw it as hypocritical. The conversation with myself at the time was that it didn’t make any sense. I understood the good parts to it, but it was not hitting that mark. And that was the beginning of my spiritual awareness. I knew there had to be something different. From the Israelites to learning about the 5 percenters and even KRS One in his music was a teacher about Christ. I understood the similarities, and I knew enough to seek what I would find, but I would always get back to Christianity. And my race had nothing to do with my spirituality. There’s no way God was that limited. When I started to drive the language of God to myself and read on my own and most importantly listen, I continued to be guided. It’s kind of like exposing a child, just like when I was molested, to information that does not have context. So I was a very spiritually aware little girl with no context of what the heck was going on in her life. Just a lot of turmoil because I didn’t understand what happened to me. I didn’t feel like I was really raised. So when I do Cocktales with LA, a lot of people just say, “Oh that’s LA doing her shtick.”
But it’s not my shtick. It’s who I am because a good chunk of my life, I was not raised. So sometimes I say things that are outrageous, but I’m not trying to be shocking. I’m legitimately asking a question and people respond with “Leave it up to LA!”
I hear those comments and I take pause and think about my impact on people, but at the time, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with asking the truth. So it’s the hypocrisy that has taught me the most about myself and what I truly believe in and what I want to align myself with what I believe in. I have a wonderful beautiful relationship with God. I can feel the Holy Spirit when it’s on me, talking to me, talking through me. People affirm that that’s what’s happening when I speak to them because I think that the truth that’s speaking through speaks to the truth in them. Although, it’s funny, I’m so outrageous in so many ways, that when people see someone who lives open and free, they either love them or fear them because we’re so conditioned to be robots.
Exactly! My father is a deacon at Church and with me, I created the Late Shift under the name Mr. Late Shift. And that allows me to explore and expose my creativity on a sexual spectrum of things without adding my name to it. But also, there’s thing in the back of my head that always says God won’t be pleased, but when I hear you speak on it, you know people will think of you as outrageous, but because you’re able to tap into your freedom, you’re able to keep that relationship with God.
Yeah, because I’m so opened because He looks for people like me to use who won’t get in the way, so I’m on the cross all the time.
Right! And I feel, also, because you mentioned hypocrisy and you’re not stopping yourself from failing or…
From failing or holding people to a perfect standard and they can’t function because they can’t live up to your expectations. We alienate people and it’s so sad, because we look to one another just like we look to God because we look for a reflection on Earth. And so when we look at one another, we look for a connection that makes sense and it motivates me to continue to be as much as a vessel as possible. And as much as I grow and try to use discernment in any given situation. It’s not just about being spiritual. Of course I try not to make mistakes, but I don’t beat myself up when I make them. And our mistakes have nothing to do with his love for us. So at 46 years old, I have finally recognized this. So I believe the rest of my life will be great, with not as much turmoil as before. There will always be turmoil, but not like before.
Now, what I recognized with the way you’re living is what I call true freedom.
I’m almost there, but I’m practicing it for sure.
Yeah! And I refer to it as freedom.
Yeah, I believe it is.
And I would like to know when… I don’t think you mentioned when it happened.
Well, I’ve had moments of freedom throughout my life and like I said, those moments of connection help you expand your faith. Because you might think to yourself that you’ll surely die if anyone knows about your business. It’s about who has covenant. It’s complicated. But in terms of how I knew, I always believed that it’s been a small pulling of God towards Him. I always had to figure it out on my own and I never thought about involving God. Because He’s talked about externally to who you are so you don’t recognize how you have to align yourself to the Word and Spirit of God. It’s not magic, it’s creation.
So now, with regards to the sexual assault you experienced, I believe a lot of folks, after experiencing something like that, any thought or idea of God is pushed to the wayside asking questions like “Why would God allow this?”
God allows lots of things. He’s a spirit.
Is that the attitude you took on when it came to it?
I never asked God WHY ME. I forgave the people who molested and raped me. If I hold on to it, I’m hurting myself and not them. But when I love myself through it, they end up feeling convicted anyway, because they know they did something wrong. It’s really about knowing your Word. If you know it, it can act like a shield. It’s not a positive self-talk. It’s understanding the principles in the Bible. It’s really powerful and I don’t think it’s taught from the principles of empowering somebody or locating themselves in the words they are reading.
It’s really not taught that way.
And I look at all these years of me not getting my own way all the time and being embarrassed and losing and rising and still willing to try and still being opened not matter what how much pain I’ve been through because I know the pain is not coming from God.
PART 2 WILL SOON BE AVAILABLE