"You're not a victim for sharing your story, You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage." -Alex Elle
It is rare that you instantly contact with someone your never met before; and my connection to this beautiful, spiritual, and resilient woman started from the moment I read her excerpt from the Best Seller "Shift Happens." When I spoke to her via Zoom, I told her that while reading her story I felt like I was reading my own; word for word. It was scary, yet enlightening to know that someone else shared and could relate to pain I felt and heartbreak I muscled through. She was familiar with the ups and downs of navigating single motherhood, but still had the determination and will to power through any obstacle that dared to get in her way. The importance of sharing your story will always be a belief of mine. You never know who is watching, listening, or reading your story and sees someone who looks like them or comes from the same background as the do. Seeing that person's fall and rise could be the inspiration an individual could use to inspire them to keep moving forward.
Keaira English is the epitome of inspiration to all young mothers. Keaira was pregnant at the age of 16, but suffered a traumatic miscarriage. At the age 18, she gave birth to a baby girl; and like most young mothers struggled for a while. Keaira didn't let the obstacles of single motherhood keep her down for long. Instead, she allowed her faith in God to push her forward. She finished college with a degree in Public Relations and Broadcasting. She started her own PR company, and is also a makeup artist.
" Being Comfortable.... with Uncomfortable Conversation"
How many of you grew up being the only female sibling? If not, imagine that on one hand you may get all of the attention, get away with any and everything, and of course the biggest perk would have to be being "daddy's little princess." On the flip side; however, you are tortured by your brothers, and have to be tough enough to show them you’re not to be missed with. As you get older, "Oh, Goodness!" Your brothers and dad have the task of intimidating your boyfriends... giving them the third degree, and their unsolicited opinions. Let’s just say, Keaira English knows all about the headaches of being the only girl.
While talking to Keaira, we touched on the factors of being the only girl and the anxiety that comes with bringing boys around or introducing them to your father or brothers. Of course you get the unwanted opinions; and like most fathers, her father didn’t want her to date until she was in college.
Keaira English is originally from Denver Colorado, but her mother's job moved her family (including her dad and three brothers) to Dallas, Texas. They were close knit.
As we traveled deeper into the conversation about boys, we talked about the taboo that plagues black households when it comes to having an open flow of conversation with your parents. We examined when it came to those hard-and-uncomfortable conversations, most parents seem to stray away from the topic.
Keaira said that she was never able to have those conversations with her parents, because it was a "no, no." Now that she is a mother herself (to an 11-year old daughter), she knows that’s it’s imperative that she breaks the taboo of having intimate discussions within the household. She is as transparent as possible with her daughter, because she does not want her to be afraid to come to her with questions about anything. She knows that if she’s not willing to talk to her daughter about sex and boys, that she'll just learn from her friends.
Once Keaira started dating, it was with a guy that she knew she had no business dating (something that many of us can relate to while dating in high school). Her parents didn’t care for her him; but being young and naive, she thought she knew best about her choice of boyfriend. Why do we always try make these boys seem better than what they actually are, and just refuse to take our parent's advice even when they've "been there and done that?"
Majority of the times, having a boyfriend meant doing things we might not totally be ready for. Sex; for instance, comes with adult responsibilities and consequences that teens are not ready for. Keaira was not an exception. She believes peer pressure played a factor in deciding to have sex at age 16. When the topic of sex is all around you; how can you escape it? Being young, some fear not having sex with a boyfriend will cause him to leave (the relationship). So, it’s possible to cave under pressure.
Keaira was aware of the risks asaociated with having sex, and because of this attempted to “trick” her mom into putting her on birth control. Her mother was too smart for that; she didn't budge. I asked Keaira, if her daughter came to her at the age of 16 and asked to be put on birth control would she would be open to exploring those options? As kids become more advanced each year, if she has a child responsible enough to prevent the consequence, why not take precautions? Keaira said she would be open and listen to her daughter, because her daughter would be making a wise decision in taking precautions.
Although Keaira attempted to take the precautions to protect to herself, she ended up pregnant with her first child. She felt like she let her family down, and everyone was mad at her; yet, at the same time, she felt anger towards them because she did try protect herself. Her boyfriend was happy about the pregnancy; however, she truly knew he wasn’t the kind of guy she should of been with in the first place. He was often in-and-out of trouble, and simply wasn’t the type of person that should have had her attention.
After being pregnant for a few months; Keaira talked about the night she woke up in a pool of blood; a night of uncertainty, pain and sadness. Keaira was taken to the hospital where it was confirmed that she was having a miscarriage. That night she was forced to pushed out her still-born daughter; a dreadful moment that will be with her forever. Since Keaira was so young during her pregnancy, she felt as if she had to just go on with life as if nothing had happened. I asked her did she think that she had a chance to grieve the loss of her first born properly, and she doesn’t believe that she did. Life had to go on; she had to put on an act of being strong and "okay," as if she hadn’t just experienced something traumatic. Although her parents were there for her during the stay in the hospital, there was never any conversation about the miscarriage. Even to this day, it has become a moment in her life swept under the rug.
After graduating high school, Keaira decided to stay in Texas for college. While living her life as a college student, Keaira started to date a man who lived in her girlfriend’s apartment building; but from the start he showed many red flags. I asked Keaira, "why is it that girls and women notice red flags when we are dating, but sometimes we seem to ignore them?" Keaira said, "I don't really know why we do that;" but she thinks that we as women try to look pass the red flags, and try to see what might be nice and polished instead of what might be broken.
After dating him for a while, Keaira found out that she was expecting. Because she was a firm believer in not having abortions; Keaira decided that she was going to let her daughter's father know that she was pregnant and would go through with the pregnancy.
After giving birth to her daughter, Keaira did go through a rough patch where she struggled financial. She had to battle with her daughter's father, and remained in a position where she never shared her feelings with anyone... especially her parents. She would never elude to the magnitude of her situation.
I asked Keaira, "Is it possible that you may have suffered from postpartum depression and just did not know it at the time?" Unaware and willing to do further research on the topic, Keaira considers postpartum as a potential diagnosis for what she was feeling at the time, and questions "I could have been going through, but just didn’t know at the time." In the moment, she felt defeated. She was struggling financially, was not getting enough sleep, and the burdens of being a new mom were draining. She, rightfully, gives all thanks and credit to her mom for helping her during those times, because she knew nothing about caring for a baby.
A few years after having her daughter, Keaira was in a bad car accident following a disagreement with her mother. This incident changed her entire perspective on life change. She said, it changed her "mentally, and spiritually," but most of all, and she realized that she needed to get her life in order. That chanve wouldn't happen overnight, but she gradually worked towards it.
It is true that we don’t fully understand our parents until we become a parent ourselves. Keaira couldn't agree more. Coming from a two-parent household with four children, she understands the scarifies her parents made for her and her brothers to live the life that lived. She is appreciative of her parents and her brothers, because they have been her biggest supporters. With their love, help, and support, she was able to finish college.
"There's a Black Publicist For That"
With a degree in Public Relations and Broadcasting Journalism, accompanied with a "bug" for writing, Keaira decided it was time to tell part of her story. Eventually, with a best seller "Shift Happens" on her hands, Keaira felt relief from her writing. Not only was her writing therapeutic, the chance to share her story with other young women that could relate was comforting. By sharing her story, she was potentially helping other women. She was vulnerable in the name of supporting each others, especially black women. "Black need to stick together, we're Better together."
Keaira always wanted to be a journalist; especially after obtaining her degree. She now had a new love... the thought of helping others tell their stories. She recalls her "Intro to PR" course in college, and that being her "light-bulb/a ha moment" what should found her passion. Journalism was more than a news anchor's desk.
Although Keaira wasn't opposed to the idea of being a news anchor, many demands come with starting fresh in the news world. She was unanle to fully commit at the time, as she was a young mother. Public Relations; however, had Keaira's full attention. Starting her own agency was now in the forefront of her thoughts; and after few years and a variety of people approaching her about helping them build their brand, she those inquiries as sign that it was time to start her company. KE Connections PR cureent represents two female clients that Keaira is grateful and happy to represent. Rather than a wish list of people she would like to work with, she knows that she is destined to be both celebrity and entertainment publicist.
Keaira might be skillful at storytelling and building brands, but her skills do not stop there. As quick as she communicates the stories of her clients, in the next breath she is "beating your face" to the gods. Her talent as a makeup artisg began at 18. She would constantly receive compliments on how good her face looked (even when she didn't know if she was actually doing a good job). Although makeup was just a hobby for her, many were requesting her services. At that point, she decided that she could turn her makeup artistry into a business venture.
While perfecting her makeup skills, Keaira was once afraid to use colorful makeup pallets due to the shade of her skin. As a woman who also fears playing with color, because of my complexion, I asked Keaira why she thinks women of darker skin tones shy away from color. Keaira feels, "society plays a big role in why we, as black women tell ourselves that certain things might not be for us. Makeup is art, and it's made for us to play around with. We have to decide for ourselves what is right for us." She reassures, "I'm actually in love with colors now. I want to show that just because you have darker skin, it shouldn't mean that you can’t wear color. Yes, we can wear color, and it looks good on me too!"
Keaira plans on taking her makeup company to the next level. She should have her LLC completed within the next few months, and plans on creating a full makeup line that includes everything from lashes to lip glosses. In the meangime, Keaira does offers one-on-one consultations, in the Dallas area, for anyone who doesn't have a clue where to start.
Keaira is representing for young mothers and black entrepreneurs, and is ready for wherever God leads her. She wants to be one the biggest PR companies globally. She plans to continue to grow her brand, be consistent, aquire celebrity clients, and build a good reputation within her company, because word of mouth can carry your company a long way. Within the next few years, Keaira hopes to move to Atlanta or L.A. to be easily accessible to major events and clients.
I noticed that Keaira's faith in God was evident throughout our conversation and also throughout her social Media pages. I asked her, "Why is your relationship with God so important?" Without hesitation, Keaira said, "because I would literally be nothing without Him." She explained, "I went through a period of not having a relationship with Him and feeling empty; but when you do have a relationship with Him, you feel joy and happiness, because he fills you up. You think about the things you want, and God says I can give you more than that."