Karen’s impact on me, believe it or not, was felt after her WCW interview and photoshoot.
I was not aware of who she was, but saw that she did something similar to what I was doing and had been doing it for a much longer time.
I had been blown away by her story during the interview.
But the way she backed up those words after… It floored me.
In a VERY short time, I met individuals were instrumental in my writing career and whom I’d like to call friends.
Her dream for a better world is real and she works towards it.
And that is why, I am proud to introduce this week’s Woman Crushing It Wednesday!
Step into my office.
(laughter) Yes. I love it.
Well, let's see. First of all, thank you for coming.
Thank you for having me.
All right. So my first question... Every superhero has an origin story. What is your origin story?
My origin story is that I grew up just that little girl that just wanted to be loved. I can't tell you because the womb that I was created in, I don't know if there was love in there. But when I came out, I know that my daddy loved me. My mother left at six months to come here, to Canada. I was born in Jamaica. Montego Bay to a simple fishermen. And he told me she named me Karen Natalie Samuels. I don't know where she got Karen from. But Natalie was because my dad's a fisherman and he also had a glass bottom boat that he would take tourists out on. There was an Italian couple that used to come. And when my mom was pregnant with my older sister, they told her she was having a girl and to name her Angelica Natalie Samuels. Now, I don't know how the “cal” comes in. I'm just guessing because of the accent with Jamaicans. They just put Angelical but her name should have been Angelica. He didn't remember the middle name. So my older sister does not have a middle name. But she has a nickname, Dimple. She has no dimple. Then I came along three years later, yeah. And my dad said she wanted to name me Karen. But he did not want that name. He wanted my name to be Pepita. Back in the days, my dad, he did not grow up, wealthy at all. He fished and he would dive. Tourists that would come would throw coins in the ocean. And he would dive down to get it and that was their entertainment. There was this woman from Mexico. Her name was Pepita. And she loved the way he dived. And she would throw lots of coins. And he would dive down and get them but he said she was so nice. That's where my name Pepe comes from. You give a child a name on paper to call them a different name and the pet name off of that different name. So the pet name is Pepita, but I only knew myself as Pepita, but he would call me Pepe for short. So, I only knew myself as Pepita, Pepe Samuels. and I just know him and my grandmother. I was left with at six months with him and my grandmother, and my grandfather. And the love, the love... I was theirs. And where we are from Jamaica, it's right by the airport. And I thought I was an airplane. He used to put me on his shoulders. And where we're from, in Flanker, in the hills, we would watch the plane come in at Dead End Beach where he would go and fish. That's where the airport was. I remember and I came here when I was three and a half, almost four. But I do remember feeling the power of the plane. And I told him I was going to be a plane. My grandfather, he was an amazing grandfather. I would always walk down the street with him to get ice cream. And I remember I believe it had to be on a weekend. And this weekend. I seen him going down the road. And I knew I was going to get ice cream if I went with him. And I started following him. And all I remember was this woman who tugged me up. That was my grandmother, because I wasn't supposed to be following him. But he didn't know I was coming because I knew that he would always take me when he saw me behind him. And this time she caught me. And she pulled me back. And I just remember crying and crying and crying. The next memory I have, we were on a veranda and everyone was dressed in black. And I just remember my grandmother crying. And I was looking, but I couldn't see my grandfather. I didn't know where he was, but everyone was crying. I was told later, like when I got a little bit older, that was his funeral. My grandfather was actually not my biological grandfather. He was my step grandfather. I did not know that. And he was a retired sergeant. And he put away somebody in jail. And they got out of jail. And that same day that I went to follow him. The person was up in a tree. He must have known he was going to the butcher shop and shot him and killed him. Well, so I missed out on that. My next memory after that is we were at the airport. Finally I got to be in that plane that I wanted to be. I just remember my dad saying bye and my grandmother holding me and she wouldn't let me go. We went on the plane. She sat by the window and I wanted to go to the window. And I remember she had her Bible and she wouldn't let go with the Bible. And for the entire flight, I was trying to look out the window, but she kept on holding me back, because she thought I was going to fall out. And she had the Bible beside her. Then we came off the plane. And I remember coming out and there was this woman holding out her hand, calling me and there was this other girl who I knew was my sister. And my grandmother kept on pushing me, but I didn't want to go. And she was calling, but I just didn't want to go. And she finally took me and at that moment, she did hug me. I don't know if she felt anything. But I know I didn't feel anything. That was that from there. There was not that love anymore. I came into a household where she had two other kids after me. She had four. I think she was pregnant with Marssia. But I had a little sister and she had her husband. And never remember the husband talking to us. I don't think he knew she had other kids. I don't know if or if he expected her to bring up all her other kids. But my older sister and my older brother came up first. Then I came up, and I just remember this man. He was always in the house but never said hi. We never had a conversation. And she separated us. My older sister and I have the same dad. So we were one family. The two younger sisters have the same dad. So they were one family. My older brother had a different dad and my other brother came up after had a different dad. So we knew we were family. Well, we weren't a family. But we knew we were individuals. Like we knew she was our mom. But we were separated individually. She told us that.
It’s like you had different factions within the family structure.
Yes! So this was my real sister. Those were my sisters. But she was my real sister because we shared mother and father together. When I came up, I was being compared to my older sister. Never had the long hair that she had. My nose wasn't as straight as her nose. And I just remember my mother would call me a black brute. I looked like a monkey.
And that's where I grew up hating to go to the zoo and look at monkeys. Wasn't a white person that told me about a monkey. It was my mom that referred to me... She used to call me a Baboon and black monkey and asked me how come I didn't look like my sister. So being there, I hated being black. She told me because I was darker, I was not as pretty. Because if black you're not pretty. With that, I remember my first day of school, just bouncing back to that. And the teacher, at that point, they had a clipboard. And you'd sit at your desk and they walk around and call your name out and you say here.. And everyone in the neighborhood grew up in Jamestown. And we were all one family. Back then in Toronto housing, it was a community. If he got in trouble, everybody got beat and then it didn't have to be your parents. So everyone was auntie and uncle. And I remember going to school and the woman took out the clipboard and she was calling everybody's name when she came over. Karen Samuels. I knew Samuels. But I didn't know why she was calling me Karen. And she looked at me and I looked at her. I was waiting for Peppy. And she came back and said Karen Samuels and I said my name is not Karen My name is Peppy, Pepita. And she said to me, the paper said, Karen, your name is Karen. But I took it. And she goes you have to say here and I said here. When I went home, I asked my mom. who's Karen. Her reply was to me You're so dumb. Your name is Karen. I said my name is Pepe. She saidthat my dad wanted to name me that ugly name. She wasn't going to give me that ugly name. Your name is Karen Samuels. That's how I knew my name was Karen. Everyone in the neighborhood knew me as Pepe. So at school they called me Karen At home I was Peppy Yeah, I was comfortable. We moved to Calgary. And when we moved to Calgary that's back in the 80s. Because I'm 48 now. It was white. Out of a school of, I think, let's say 300 kids. We were the only black family. So in that school, it was just my sister and I. I remember there was one guy, Mark, and he was the only other black kid. And then I was surrounded by whites. I loved it. They made me feel pretty. In Calgary, we lived in Calgary housing, but next door to Calgary housing where the huge houses. In my mind, at that time they were mansions. They were beautiful houses. I remember Bermuda Lane and Fish Creek Park. Beddington Heights is another one. And I remember everywhere I lived, I always associated myself with the blondes, white girl, mother and father and live had her own bedroom. And I remember that one girl, I went to her house. And her parents always wanted to touch me. My skin was soft, they would say. Nothing sexual. But they were always telling me how beautiful I was. I thought that was beautiful. They made me feel beautiful. Then I was going home to a woman that was calling me an ugly baboon, you big nose brute. So I affiliated myself with whites. And when I went to Calgary, I asked them not to call me Pepe anymore, because Pepe was a black name. And I didn't want to be black anymore. So I asked for everyone around me to call me, Karen and I no longer answered to Peppy. I did not want to be Peppy. anymore. Because White was pretty. And whites again made me feel good. Now coming from Calgary, my older brother got himself in trouble. He was actually one of the biggest pimps here in Toronto. And who they wanted, his boss, he wouldn't give up. So he went to jail. And he got four years. With that said, we had to come back. My older sister ran away. She couldn't be at that house anymore with my mom. She actually broke down. And my other brother, she didn't want to take him out of school. So he ended up staying with some church people. And she brought me back. My belief is she brought me back to help her with the two younger kids. She had left the father by that time because all of us came up. And I don't think he knew how to deal with us because again, he never spoke to us. So we went back and we had to stay with my grandmother for a little bit. I went to Calgary at eight I came back at twelve. And coming back, my grandmother lived at Davenport. And I went to Davenport School. Seeing all these black people now, I had a friend that I met, Cherry. She was Guyanese I believe. So she was my friend because she was more coolie and I aligned myself with her. It's either you had to be white, light skin, or Indian or some types of mixture. Because that made me feel pretty. I did not talk to the darker skinned black girls because they weren’t pretty. I wanted to affiliate myself with them. We did live with my grandmother for a bit but she and my mom would have issues. My grandmother now I aligned myself with her. She used to clean. And I can't remember if he was a doctor or lawyer, but very, very wealthy. And she used to sneak me in, because she wasn't supposed to have me. And this one day when she'd sneak me in, I would, she'd leave me with the kids. We would play but we would clean and play together. And I remember the one day, the wife came home, and I was there, my grandmother was frightened. And then I knew because she told me that I should hide. But I didn't because I was playing with the kids. And I seen the lady take my grandmother into the kitchen, and I knew I was in trouble. And then I see my grandmother come out of the kitchen, but she was smiling. And then she said I had to go. And the woman came up to me and she said you're coming back, because she's never seen her kids clean before. And now she wants me back because they would clean because we created a game that we would clean together. And from there, I remember that day we went home. I don't know what. I just heard yelling. And I'm used to my mom screaming because that's how she spoke to us. She would scream. But this time, it was a different yelling. And between her and my grandmother and I know they had their riff. And all I remember is we used to sleep in the living room on a mattress. My grandmother came and I heard someone yell to get out. And I don't know what happened. But I seen my grandmother came out of the kitchen with a pot of water. And she threw it on the mattress. So we couldn't sleep on it. So we had to go. I remember turning back when we were leaving and looking at my grandmother. Her face was stern. But when I looked at her something softened. I felt she didn't want me to go. But I had no choice. We went to a shelter that day. And I can't remember if it was the day after or so forth, because I was 11 at that time... 12… Between there. And I heard her on the phone. Yes, I was one of those fass kids. And she was talking to my younger kids at and I remember her saying she was going to stay there. But something about she doesn't know where to put me because I'm not John's child. So I couldn't stay there. At that point I felt displaced again. It was a church family that I went to stay with. And when I went to stay with that church family, I thought they were the weirdest friggin family that there was. First of all, you walked in the house and it was peaceful. Nobody was yelling. They enrolled me in school. Funny enough, I went back to Jamestown, that's a whole community in Rexdale. And I remember, they were a British family Jamaican background, but they were British. And I remember we came home from school that day. And I thought she was weird again. She opened the door and asked us how our day was. But I like that weird feeling. Then her husband would be in the living room, watching TV or with the paper and he asked us how we were doing. Again, weird! But I liked it. They were hugging each other. They were loving each other and they were one family. I always said I want it to be a family like that. And I prayed to God that He would never take me out of this family. Even though I knew I didn't belong. I felt that I did and I wanted this feeling. It was about maybe six or seven months after, I came home and I remember she came and she was so excited. The mother said that I was going home and that my mother got a place. Again, being who I knew I had to be I pretended. And she never knew and none of them knew that I went downstairs in the basement and I cried. We grew up 7 Day Adventist from church. And that was the day that I started hating God. Because I asked why He would take me from my dad that loved me and pulled me to a woman that no one knew what she was doing. And then you show me the best family to then laugh after me and put me back in hell. That's the day I knew He didn't like me. But I pretended. From there, we got our place at Jane and Finch. I was about 13. That's where I would say, I came in. I had to fit myself again, going to different schools. I went in the middle of a school year again. And I noticed the pretty girls. Yes, there were black girls, but I did not want to talk to the dark skinned one. I noticed the pretty girls at school. So I went and I walked up, they were all light skinned. I fit myself and we were the girls. That's where I learned shadism was from my own people. It was a difference in our community. We were still a family. But you had your light skins, which were the pretty ones and the guys wanted. So I thought and then you had me, the monkey. And I always grew up that way. Even at church, my friends were light skinned, I would go to their house and I fit myself into their family, because I thought they had the perfect family because there was love. Then I would go back home. And I get you ugly monkey, you black brute. I still have issues with my nose, because it's not straight, which I was taught if you have lighter hair, it was finer and it was straighter. That's who everyone would like. I'm still getting to know myself but I'm still self conscious of my nose. I was told that I was ugly like my dad, because I am dark like my dad. And this peak, I stopped shaving. I used to shave it out. Because I was told it's called a widow's peak and I was a witch and I was going to kill my husband. And only evil people have peaks. So I shaved it off for many years. If you notice my toe, my second toe is longer than my big toe. I was told I was a ruler and no man would want me because only... These are the things that I was told. And these things came from inside the home. Everyone used to say I'm so confident. It was a part but I truly wasn't the leader. Everyone thinks I'm a leader. I was a follower. My girlfriend Shola. She was light skinned. She was beautiful. She was just out there. I tried to be her. My daughter's godmother, Donna. I fitted myself in her family and I tried to be her. Yes, I got older and tried to bleach myself. It just doesn't work. It shows up more spots than it should be. Growing up my girlfriend had her baby. And then I wanted to recreate myself all over again. So after she had her daughter, I willed my daughter into existence. There was a little girl from church, her name was Shinai. I asked her mother, what does the name mean? She goes always loved. It’s Muslim. And that's when I knew I was 17 at the time that I was going to have a little girl to name her Shinai. But I was gonna spell it a different way. Because she was always going to be loved. Yeah, step step back more. I had my daughter and I decided to take out my uterus. I was having serious periods. I used the period as an excuse and the doctor I had found a way to get it done. The reason that I took out my uterus is because I said after her I would never want her to experience favoritism. So I was never going to have another child so she only got to be the one that I loved. Confused back in the day, no one knew. I had met this guy. He was everything I wanted. And I already set out that I was gonna have my baby girl. He got himself in trouble and went away. Went to jail. I was afraid to be left alone. I felt like my dad. He was amazing to me. But I didn't want to be alone. So I told him he wasn't the child's father after. Well, I had met another guy rollerskating. But I was pregnant already and I didn't know it. I did tell a friend of mine that I hadn't always but she told me to tell because this guy was more out there, popular and the other guy, I knew was going away. So I told him he wasn't her father. So my daughter was raised with a man for 10 years. People did question because she never looked like him. But her father, her real dad, ended up living in the same building that I lived in. Mind you, I wasn't with the other guy. So he wasn't there. But he would watch the other guy pick up his daughter, and he always knew it was his daughter, but didn't say anything. So he watched his daughter grow up without saying anything. My daughter has my last name, which I always said, because she was mine. And the Samuels I always wanted to carry that on. The other guy wanted me to hyphenate. I wasn't gonna do it. But I put it away in my mind until my daughter was 10. And she went to the hairdresser's. Now, we're a small community. Everyone knows everyone. And she came home that day. She went to go get her hair braided and she asked me who Ben was. Somebody came to her and said that she looked like Ben’s daughter. And that was the day I stopped hiding. I think it got back to him. And he reached out to confirm which I did. I never asked my daughter how she felt or asked my daughter what her feelings was. I just told her that this is not her father's family. I tossed her into that. My daughter to this day has some resentment. And we have issues because of that. And I grew my daughter up by giving her materialistic things. My daughter went to a French school, she's bilingual. My daughter opened for Ziggy Marley. She sings. My daughter had a car by the time she was 16. And again, I threw everything on her. If I was to turn back time, I would give her nothing like that. But I thought in my mind, because I didn't get those things. I thought love was giving her things. She's now an entitled bitch. And everyone says she's spoiled as hell. But I didn't know me. With that, my sister had the clothing store, which I was a part of from the beginning. But I was still being controlled. I wasn't allowed to date who I wanted to date. See who I wanted to see.
Question... Before you continue. You said you were still controlled and you were not allowed… How were you at that time?
Late 20s, early 30s, early 30s. Yes.
Who was not giving you permission?
My sister. And then my mom helped her with the store. My mom would tell me it’s not your store while, my sister made me the manager. I was working at Bell at the time. And then I came part time and I would work at the store. She would go in the daytime. And my mom and I would work in the afternoons together. And my mom would see that she would come to me for everything. And I think it was just younger, the bond and we kind of knew things. And my mom would always remind me that this was not my store. It's hers and Angy’s. But I knew that my sister had her guy that was there. And not to go into too much. But they were particular with who I was around. I ended up meeting a guy who knew him and what he did. I was told that I had to leave the guy. But again, I wasn't in love with him. I was in love with love because I wanted that fairy tale. And I had that desire to be loved. I said I wasn't leaving. But the guy knew what he was doing. So I remember them calling me that night and told me I had a choice. It's either I leave the store, I leave him or I leave the store. But my sister, I believe she truly did love me. But again, there was control. And he didn't want me to be with him. And they gave me that ultimatum. Her boyfriend did threaten, if I didn't come back, he would shoot me and I knew he had the ability to do it. So I sent that threat back and you'll hear my sister. She said I threatened her. She threatened to kill me. I did threaten her. I said if anything happens to me, I would tell my daughter and she would go straight to Concord trucking. That was the day my sister and I never spoke again. And I never went back. Mind you, I left with that guy. And everyone told me he wasn't good. But I was in love because he sold me a fairytale. I remember he had his own house in Brampton that I went to and he said he was still married to somebody but not with them. He was leaving. Not knowing years after that was his wife's house that lived there that he brought me to while she was at work. Mind you, he told me he worked. And I lived in a beautiful condo at this time. We moved out from the condo because the store was the one that was funding. I paid for nothing. The store paid for everything. My daughter was in private school, everything was paid for. We moved out with the notion that he had this money. We moved to Brickstone. There was no money.I was paying till we moved to Brampton. I didn't know what I was going through and he just was weird. But then I remember, we got a knock on the door. And the landlord, she had a letter in her hand and the letter said that our lease was being terminated because we hadn't paid rent in three months. That’s when I was working, no one knew I was working at Woodbine racetracks. From two to four o'clock in the morning, I would clean. And I also worked part time. I got a job after that at BMO. And then I was working part time at the liquor store. He said he got laid off. So I was giving him the money to pay the rent.
But he didn't do it.
He had a girl on the side.
He had his license suspended. But I got a car for him. I couldn't tell you what my thought was at that time. But I said to him, the only thing I know is that we can go to a shelter because I can get housing. He said he wasn't going to a shelter. So I went to a shelter. And I paid $50 a day for him to stay in a hotel. I called the hotel one day while in the shelter. I remember the person that answered asked me if I was the girl there last night. I've never been to the hotel. At work, I started to change, physically change. I was getting skinnier and not eating. They were saying things about me because I would come to work and not know how I got to work. They said I would go into meetings and not know that I had a meeting. And I was a mentor at that time, teaching new people what to do to come in. And they said I was telling them weird things. And so this word crazy started to go around. One of the girls from work, said something's wrong with me so she wanted to take me to church. She didn't drive, I drove. She said while we were on the highway, I took my hands off the wheel. And she asked what I was doing. I told her I was changing the light bulbs. That point again, do you see the crazy? From there, one of the girls followed me home. And that's where they found out I was staying in a shelter. I tried to explain things. She came and she let me stay in her room with her daughter. Now at some point in between there. I don't know how this happened. But the police called me and asked me my name. And if I owned a Honda Accord, which was his car. I said yes. But it was in my name. His license was suspended. And they said, well, they have my car impounded, but I have to come tomorrow and meet them at the courthouse. Everyone said that's not how you do it. But I believe the police realized something was wrong. I remember they told me I had to meet a woman. And I met the woman at the courthouse and all I wanted was the keys. When I went into the courthouse, I just remembered some noise and the door opened. And they were leading people through and I seen him and he went up and they called out his charges which was assault. And they called out her name. The woman looked at me and I looked at the woman. At that point, we stood up. That's where he turned around and seen me. And then he whispered, I'm sorry. He's never seen me. To this day, I've never seen him again. I had nobody to go back to because my mom didn't talk to me. My sister didn't talk to me. And they were starting to say I was crazy. I was mentally breaking down. I had a car accident. And all I remember just waking up in the car was fully totaled. And I just woke up at the side of the road and the car was totaled. I don't know what happened after that. But then it got fixed. It was about a month after that, I woke up again and the car was totaled on the other side. I went to the doctor and he said you have to give up your license. He told me it was anxiety but he said you're blacking out. If you don't give it up, it'll be taken from you. You're never going to get it back. I remember going to Honda and just throwing away the keys and walking out and my cars were leased. And from there I don't know how I got to work. They demoted me from being a mentor who put me back in customer service. I had to do password resets. I didn't remember how to do it. I remember there were times that I was on the phone that I didn't know who I was talking to or how I got on the phone. And I went to my manager and I told her that I don't remember. And she was like, what are you talking about? You used to teach. And I remember they moving me around to four different managers. Again, the confusion, I didn't know what was going on. And I worked overtime at the liquor store. I gave up the racetracks because I couldn't physically do it anymore. And I got myself back together. I stayed in that room. I’m a very clean person, and I'm grateful to this woman, but her house was... I couldn't stay there. It was gross. It was the cleaning. And I was always cleaning. And I couldn't take it anymore. So I decided that one day... My dad is a fisherman and I love the water. So I filled the bathtub with water. And I knew I was going back to the water. So I did try to kill myself. I tried to drown myself. However, the therapist now says, because I went backwards, I was still looking up. I did come up. He says it's great that someone wasn't there. Because maybe if someone was there, I would have went through with it to prove it. Because that person would have tried to stop me. I think things started to change. I was on the bus one day. And I mean, I'm coming from a person that if you took the bus, you couldn't even be my friend. I do not talk to people on the bus. Here I was on the bus myself. I can't remember if it was a man or a woman. But somebody was talking about blacking out being seen jumbled up inside. Everything they were saying, that's what I was going through. But I couldn't see it because there were family members that were out there saying I was crazy. And I kept on hearing crazy. Growing up in the Caribbean black home, you don't go to therapists because that's crazy. You don't beg anybody for anything. So even when I was stumbling, I pushed a lot of people away. Because of my pride. And I would never tell anybody what was going on inside my head because I didn't know how to and that wasn't acceptable. That was six years ago. I told them I was having back problems. And they decided to get me an aeronautical chair. The lady had to come and measure me. I didn't know she was a counselor. She was measuring me and I don't know after what she was doing. And she asked me if she could talk to me in the room. She noticed something. And when she talked to me, she said us to have more sessions. That's when she realized what was going on. I started doing therapy. Needless to say now, it's mental health. It was mental illness. Last year, finally, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. That's where the seizures came from. I have three types of seizures, the neurological seizure. That's happened at the hairdresser's. The first time was when I was at the hairdresser's and I woke up, my wave wasn't in. And I was in the hospital. That was my first seizure. I've been having after that, where I thought it was blackouts, those were the partial and the conditional seizures, you’re awake. That's what happened when I was driving. And where people said, I started to talk about different things. I'd be talking and all of a sudden, you're talking to me now. And then I get up and just walk and start to just do something odd. That's the conditional seizures, you're awake, but you're seizing, but no one knows what you're doing. It happened about four years ago. And then they put me on medication. It was the wrong medication. Because they didn't know it was epilepsy. And I stopped sleeping, my hair fell out. This time around, it came back. And I tried to hide it because the first time I gave up my license. I got it back after two years, because I had to be seizure free for one year. Then I was fine. Then, two years ago, I was at work. And I had a new position and a new job and this came back to me. It was jumbled up inside and I wanted to get it out. If you talk too fast, it goes too much inside of my head and I kept on telling them I can’t and I just remember going to work that day. And I was on the computer. I just remembered just something to stop. When I woke up, I was in the hospital. I seized at work. The doctor said to me, medically, they cannot find anything wrong with me. However, normally with epilepsy, it's something that you see in children, and sometimes they outgrow it, or there's some kind of medical condition. We can't find one. But you have something going on up here. I already knew what it was. Everything from my childhood days. It was therapy that helped me. Through that, I started a group with Jully Black. I came in her group because I wanted her body. And I reached out thinking Oh god, it's Jully Black. She's not gonna remember me. She remembered me and told me to start this group 100 Strong & Sexy. Come and join it. That was when I got to know me. I fell in love with Karen, Pepita, Natalie and fiercely with Samuels. That's where I started the Instagram. Because you have to do Instagram. And I started working out. It made me feel good. There's a guy that took me to the gym and goes you don't need to lose weight. You need to just tone and maybe you'll feel better. The feeling that I got from working out, it was hard. But after, the sweat. I didn't sweat working out normally. It's when I'm done. The sweat comes out. They say it's endorphins. There's whatever poured out on me, poured out. I still have it. I get clammy, I get cold. I get jumbled. But now some therapy. I've learned control. For one, I love myself. I'm not going to tell you everything's perfect. I'm going to tell you like I still see that nose. I hated my mother for many years. This year, January, I finally figured it out. Everyone told me you got to forgive. It was the therapy that got me thinking. And that's where this January, I realized that I forgave my mom. Not in any way that anybody ever told me. But the realization that I actually do love her. And I always wanted her to love me from three, going back. I grew up in love. Then I came here, the feeling wasn't the same. And all I wanted her to do was love me like my grandmother, my grandfather and my dad. I wouldn't have known pretty, I wouldn't have known the difference between my sister. She's never once reached out, even in the hospital. That hurts. So what is it I'm yearning for? I love her. I forgive her now. And that's because I know that I love her. Maybe it's forgiving me. Still that I tried to align myself with many things. As I said my sister had a business. Everyone told me that with my personality to start my own thing. I've always wanted to give back. That little girl that never had that love. I wanted to give back and I wanted to help. What am I gonna do? Black history was coming up. I wanted to do a feature on black people. I knew everyone was going to do our ancestors. But I thought about me as a little girl. Had I seen people living now doing what they're doing, wouldn’t that encourage me? That's where the Black Now series started. My therapist told me to journal. I hate writing. This was my journaling. I had to take your bio, and turn it around in a journal. How I do it still, I don't know. From there. I started my Now Story page. I don't watch my followers. I don't know how much I'm following. Because I want to do it authentically to my reward. When I featured you, and everyone coming around. I started just featuring. You didn't have to be that limelight. I don't want that. I wanted that little person out there doing bigger than what they show on TV. And I wanted the community to know the stars we have. I look towards the states. My goal right now is for the states to look towards us. Our diamonds are right here, our country's even better. Our diamonds are right here. They need to leave and want to come here. We need to stop leaving. Their movies, they film them here. We've got better here. But they're not seeing? Because we're seen as nothing. So now my goal is to show everybody. Look at you as a writer. Nobody would know. Rachel told me about you. But I didn't know about you. And I'm finding more and more, what we lack here is we're very selfish. Especially as blacks, we talk about Black Lives Matter. And, we want equality. However, we don't even have equality in ourselves. People get mad when I speak about this. But my whole now stories. I'm inclusive to all because we said we want equality. So I will bring everybody. And my Black Now stories will come back in February. But I'll take white, green, yellow, indifferent. Anything I'm going to put about, because I want to bring us together. And what I've learned with doing all of this is we were on different islands. It's never going to work, collaboration. I brought you now you're bringing me here. I shined you now you're shining me. Are you threatened? We're threatened with each other. What I found in this whole thing, and I think this is where I'm coming at, we have diamonds. But we're afraid to shine each other, we feel threatened by each other. It's not the whites. No, we will not work together and we feel that you're going to take or I'm going to take a piece of yours. Actually, I can add to yours, if you put me in here. And then like the Indians, like the Jewish, like the whites. Once I get to that place where I'm building up, then give me my own and I can go out on my own and if I need it, I know I got us back. Then I'll help somebody and they can go out on their own and get it that way. So that's where we come. This is where I am now. And that other part I wanted to put in there. Finding myself. Loving myself. Going through therapy is where I realized that there are three different parts of me. That little girl Pepita that I hid. I now know that's the adventurous part of me. That's that little girl that wants to be loved. There's Karen. I am that black Karen. I'm very protective. And then there's Fierce Diva. She's the one that brings us all together. Fierce Diva is my dad and that's where part of my therapy is going to the airport. When I feel that plane coming in that power. I say that my daddy knows when to call me back home. He knows when he signals me to land, he comes inside. He cleans me up. Then he takes me in. He shines me up on the outside. He refuels me, and then he sends me back out on the tarmac and then feel my power out in the air again. Turbulence comes. I can handle it. I'm fueled up. I know what I'm doing this time. That's therapy. Flying again. I will land occasionally. But I'm always back up.
This is dope. I mean, in that one answer, you answered a few questions.
Okay. Sorry! You were just one question. Oh, God, Robert. Sorry!
No, it's okay. (laughter)
(laughter) You know, when you get me in that moment… This is where people said this book needs to come out.
For sure. I mean, the story itself is just so enthralling. It really gets you. Just one part that I need to get. So you grew up and your mother made you believe that black was not beautiful.
My mom's she's lighter. She's a lighter skinned, and she's brown. At that point, yes. I equated myself to a monkey, big nose brute. It was told that light skin, that's what pretty was. Dark, was ugly. And that's how I interpreted it.
When did your views about blackness change?
About four years ago? Four years. I’m 48 now so about two years ago.
Two years ago? That's when your views on blackness changed?
Because I always wanted to be light. When it changed was when my hair fully fell off and I couldn't put a weave on anymore. Because the weave was my protection. It hit the Negro in me. I am now embracing my negro.
What is a misconception people have about you?
That I’m confident.
That’s a misconception?
Yeah. I'm still learning confidence. I wasn't I played confident. I seen strong women. My mom regardless of however this is, she raised six kids on her own, was able to get out of government housing, work for government housing, become a supervisor, own her own home and crush everything without a man. I used that and played like I was, but I'm still that little girl who thinks she's ugly. Her nose is big and I'm not worth a lot. I would say it's two years strong that confidence is building in me. And that's how you're seeing me get out and do these stories. That's how you're seeing me saying Yes, I can. So that is the biggest misconception that I'm so confident. And I am so strong. No. I'm still that weak little girl. But I've played the part well. Now that I'm knowing myself, confidence is growing.
Somehow when it comes down to the whole confidence aspect of everything, I don't think that can be played. I believe that when it comes to confidence, you have it. And when you display it, it shows.
Maybe you're teaching me that. Maybe I did have it, but I didn't display it to myself. When I go back to everything, you guys are seeing something. I didn't see. So maybe to you, it was always there. But I didn't know what confidence was at the beginning to even tell you that I had it. All I knew that I was frightened and I was scared but I knew I had to. So if that's what you say confidence is then I had it. I displayed it. But I didn't know what it was. I just knew what I had to do to survive. And if that's confidence then yes, I always had it but did I know what it was.
You created this platform for you. What I recognize about folks that start creating things is that they don't stay there. They always strive for something. Because they see something they can get to. What do you see for yourself?
I see us pulling out our greatness. My ultimate goal is a mentorship program. So mentorship for these kids. We're losing them to the streets and the streets is the minority. Going back to our own. It doesn't matter what color you are. But just going back to the areas where it was low income houses, none of the people I knew were on welfare. But we were there for a reason, because that was affordable. For some reason. Now we've turned back into the time where people can't afford and they have to go back to subsidized housing. It's being played out there in the media, that gun violence gun this. But going back there, it's the minority that's doing bad. The majority is brilliant. And that's where I want to shine. And I want to shine the majority that's in there, but doesn't have the mentorship, the examples right in front of their eyes. Bring it back to them. Right there where I grew up, I'd say that Jane and Finch Community Center, Rexdale Community Center. Bring our astronauts, bring our scientists, bring our investors, our builders. Network with those kids. Be realistic with them. And share. Share our resources, share our networking, create programs, so that the streets won't be so enticing. This will be enticing for them, because they'll know that it's worth it to do this. And then hopefully tag your it, they will do the same. So that really, the news won't have the criminals because there won't be enough of them and what they're going to put them out to and these kids won't be enticed. Gucci and Fenti, they won't care anymore. That's what I want to do with my Now Stories and shine. There's too many stars up there.
Nice. I have a question. A lot of people will tell you you need family but you also have your chosen family right. Your core group of people now, how would you describe them? How did you assemble them? What were the qualities you were looking for?
To be honest with you, I think what I was looking for back then was just for someone to just love me. Not knowing what love is. I wanted love. But was I giving love? I also had to take a lot of accountability. So I look at that with relationships now and who's around me. I had to let some go. Because maybe I wasn't good for them. But I also did some people wrong. So I'm taking accountability for that. This year, I did put it out there with my Me, Myself and I. I apologized publicly, to everyone that I've done wrong. Realizing how hard it was for me to forgive, they may not be able to forgive me either. But knowing I had to let that go. I'm moving forward. The group that I have, my family is not DNA. But they’re people that will encourage me. They’re people that will put me in check. And I want people that are real. I don't want Yes People. I had people like that, that would take from me. But not give back to me and not materialistic or just give me wisdom. I need realism like that. Because maybe I would have fought for that relationship, just knowing that you were going to walk away with something that was good and why. I'm with people that give me knowledge, tell me the whys. And that's who I surround myself with. Because of that, my group is getting smaller. And I am not giving of my time, like I was before, I will not drop my own to help you anymore. But with that, it's a sense of relief. Because I'm truly liking this group, I am not burdened that they have to call me or I have to call them every day, anything like that. But they know when something's off, or they will just check in. The ones that are in my circle of group never asked me how am I. They asked me, what do you feel like today? And that opens up to a whole different thing. And they allow me to be me. And how I know that is because I finally know who me is.
My last question. If someone actually, let's say you meet a young Karen Samuel, at the age of 18, What piece of advice would you give her?
I think the first thing that I would tell her is don't rush it. The young Karen back then I wanted it and I wanted it now. And I got confused. Because I was looking for right now. I would say to that young Karen, take a moment. Take a moment, take 10 moments. Think first and organize yourself. Do some research. Then step. That is honestly what I would say looking back on the missed opportunities was because I went too fast. And I was reaching for something without having the knowledge without researching. I ended up in all these different things. Because of confusion. So Young Karen, relax. Relax. Take a moment.