A Conversation with Author LG Powell on her Memoir "Resilience: We Don't Stop"

LG Powell was born and raised into everything, but sunshine. After surviving an abduction at age of 3 and child abuse as a toddler, she came of age in the Boogie Down Bronx during the turbulent 70's, raised by a single mother. LG witnessed the creation of one of the most notorious street gangs of the day along with the creation of the world of Hip Hop right outside her back door. She went to college to escape her chaotic household only to return to the devastating effects of the AIDS epidemic and rise of crack cocaine, which took over her beloved streets. After encountering many incidents of sexual violence and domestic abuse, she devised a plan like so many others before her, just to survive. This is LG’s story of resilience, one that many women will relate to.

Fatima: Please tell us about your upbringing, mainly the familial context you grew up in.

LG: I grew up with seven siblings, 5 brothers and two sisters, and I am the 5th child. My mother was basically a single parent since my father was out more than he was in, until I turned 13, when he totally vanished.

Fatima: You've experienced an abduction as a child and several sexual abuses. Could you tell us about those experiences?

LG: I was lured away and abducted from my father, his siblings, and friends about the age of 3 by a stranger, while the adults sat feet’s away drinking and not paying attention to me. I was then sent to live with relatives for my safety, who abused and sexually violated me. By the time I had reached 14 years of age, I had been molested twice.

Fatima: What resources did you have available to assist you in those difficult times?

LG: I had no resources, and was not aware that there were such things as resources to assist and help someone in my predicament.

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Fatima: How old were you when you realized you had no one else but yourself to save you? Please explain the event that led you to that understanding.

LG: At the age of fourteen, I was sent for a modeling photoshoot were I again was molested. I realized then that I had no one to turn to for comfort or protection. It was really a taboo subject back in the 70s. When I confided in my friends and the adults around, I found that some were carrying their own scars and secrets, and others didn’t want to know or didn’t know how to help. It was the belief back then that it was your word against your assaulter, and without a witness, you were opening shame and humiliation onto yourself and family.

Fatima: What did the concept of "surviving" translated into? 

LG: After the incident with the sleazy photographer, I vowed to myself that I would fight to the death if anyone ever tried to violate me again instead of standing like a deer in headlights. I knew by then that no one was going to fight for my survival or sanity, but myself. That I could no longer remain sane or live with any more scars and nightmares from men who cared less about my mental well-being.

Fatima: You've recently published a memoir entitled "Resilience: We Don't Stop." Why was it important to write it, why now, and what triggered the writing process?

LG: Resilience: We Don’t Stop is a story I have always wanted to share, because every woman can relate to one or several incidents I wrote in my book. I was silenced for so long and lived in shame most of my life thinking and wondering: what could I have been projecting causing people to feel they could take advantage of me? I was not protected from, nor taught about the evil in this world, and had to learn how to recognize it and deal with it on my own. I was lucky enough to recognize that I did not survive all my harrowing encounters on my own. I also realized at the age of 14 that there was a higher power watching over me. In reality, needed to release the shame of my growing up, and wanted people to know they are not alone in what they go through, we are resilient beings. And most of all, I want parents to no longer let the streets raise their children.

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Fatima: In the memoir, which mainly narrates your life in the 70s, you discuss the creation of gangs and Hip Hop, HIV, and crack cocaine. How were these interconnected? 

LG: In my memoir, I talk about seeing the gangs come to an end in the Bronx during the 70s and how Hip Hop began, which brought the gang members and neighborhoods together, how Hip Hop was the commonality that brought the children of the Bronx to one accord. The raise of Crack and HIV began in the 80s, and many who did Crack got HIV, because they were willing to have sex so freely for the drug. And many graduated to heroine and used dirty needles.

Fatima: Has Hip Hop created a culture that saved black youth and families, or further weakened minds leading to an unconscious destruction?

LG: Hip Hop is a culture that many blacks relate to, because just like other forms of music it belongs to them. But unlike other forms of stolen music, it has been difficult for other groups to emulate Hip Hop, as it is based on real life experiences. It was a much needed art form that was able to get positive information across, in a format the youth could relate to. Unfortunately, not many rappers have profited from it like artists of the sixties and seventies did from the Motown sound. However, I would like to add that the few mega Hip Hop stars now need to do more for the people and communities they come from. They should help those trying to break into different businesses similarly to the way they were helped. There is too much nepotism nowadays amongst stars, and the black communities aren’t seeing much support.

Fatima: If we were to apply the concept of first principle, what is the core takeaway?

LG: Although we encounter unpredictable tragedies in life, relish the good times as they come and don’t give up, because trouble really does not last always.

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Fatima: Have you forgiven?

LG: I have forgiven those who did not come to my aid, but I am still working on forgiving those who violated me. I have never received an apology from any of them, but one sorry wouldn’t automatically erase years of trauma. Writing this book was cathartic, and allowed me to forgive myself for not knowing better.

Fatima: What would you tell your daughter(s)?

LG: Women’s intuitions are real! Human intuition is real. The body reacts to tense situation and sends you signals, so do not ignore them. It is okay to say NO! It is alright to say let me think about that and get back to you. Do not make hasty decisions when your body is signaling a situation may not be correct, some opportunities you need to let pass you by, you’ll be a happier person for it. Peace and Blessings

Resilience: We Don’t Stop is available now on Amazon. Photos courtesy of LG Powell.

Author Fatima Bocoum