Mahogany Keys: The Complex Image of the African American Woman 3
Interview with Luna Charles
Director of Hardcastle Enterprises Corp. and Author
Born in Haiti and a resident of South Florida for the last twenty one years, Luna is a self-published author and the Director of Hardcastle Enterprises Corp., a business she created to help people realize the full potential that they have within themselves.
The oldest of five kids from a single mother, Luna learned early that life may not seem fair but hard work and dedication will get you to where you want to go. Daily in her work she strives for excellence using those early lessons to reinforce her spirit and those around her when times get tough.
Her first novel Men Are Not The Problem is a heartfelt story of overcoming adversity and finding the love within which can conquer all wounds. The success and theme behind this novel inspired her to write the second literary novel/ journal Love, Laugh and Live with Passion, a mixture of short stories and activities whose sole purpose is to teach people the steps that she took to overcome the misfortunes that she has experienced. It features twenty-two weeks of exercises and factual tales from Luna’s life. Along with writing, Luna spends her time speaking to the youth and raising two daughters together with her husband.
Oana: What is the importance of the family in your life?
Luna: My faith and my family are the two most important things to me. In my life I have been tested, I have been challenged and I have at times fallen into abysses of self-destruction and self -loathing. If it were not for my family believing in me and the Universe never letting go of me, I would be dead today or worse, alive with no direction. But in my darkest hour God showed me the light and when I followed it, my family was there to support me and encourage me.
Oana: Would you say that the fact that you are an African American woman influenced the way you were treated throughout your life (school, workplace)?
Luna: Yes and no, when I was younger my school mates would make fun of me for being Haitian. It was back in the early 90’s when swarms of refugees were coming unto the shores of the US fleeing the poverty and violence back home. But I educated myself well; I learnt to speak very well. When I entered the workplace at age fifteen, I’m sure someone, somewhere may have thought “Can this Black girl do the job?” But I’m sure as soon as I open my mouth to speak and they saw that I was intelligent and well versed, that it quieted down. However, in my personal life I faced racism because I dated guys outside my race. It’s funny how people from both side of the fence still react to interracial couples, likes it is an abomination to society or something. Sad, really.
Oana: Have you had extremely negative experiences involving racism and how did they affect you?
Luna: Well, I’ve been called the “N word” before, which always somehow catches me off guard, it’s like, really? Did that just come from your mouth, are you really that ignorant? Lol. Also, I have been called an Oreo (black on the outside but white on the inside) by lots of people because of how I speak and what I listen to (rock music). But my favorite was when one of my ex-boyfriends took me home to meet his dad. The look on that man’s face in one word: shock. But he collected himself and was polite and all -- at first. But later on, he casually worked it into the discussion how he had dated a black in school once for the experience but he knew his son could never be serious about this, “it was just a phase.” Of course my boyfriend defended our relation and we left that day. However the damage was already done, the seed had already been planted, and I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind.
Oana: Have you ever felt that your ideals and goals have been put on hold because society has assigned you a different task or even (undeserved) punishment?
Luna: No, I don’t believe in following the rules of society or falling unto societal pressure. Sure when I was younger, I followed the crowd and did what I thought would make others happy. However, as I grew in age, I realized the only person I really need to make happy at the end was God and myself, so I stopped living for other people.
Oana: Do you believe in God? What do you think about the fact that black people and white people rarely meet in churches when we are told we are all “children of God”?
Luna: Yes I believe in God, but I don’t believe in churches. I believe that some, not all, but a great number of churches separate the people more than they bring them together. I believe some pastors preach their personal beliefs and not the actual scriptures. I believe they bring politics into a holy place. That is why I believe that blacks and white rarely meet in a place that should be about connecting with the Eternal, not about connecting with what preachers’ societal views are.
Oana: Do you believe that African American women’s rights should be part of a general greater movement that would include women of all races and ethnicities or they should be addressed separately?
Luna: Written inside the Haitian flag there is a motto, it’s says “L’union fait a force” which means “Strength in unity.” There are approximately 3.3 billion women on this planet. We are mothers, sisters, wives, friends, aunts, et cetera. Not one of these women deserves to have less rights then me. None deserve to be treated inferior to me. I am no better than any of them. But a great many are treated that way and their cries for help go unanswered. We could all help on these issues, if we decided that enough was enough. And if we all stood up together as a global community screaming at the top of our lungs that we will no longer watch quietly as our sisters be misused, raped, force into sexual slavery, or be discriminated against, no matter where they are in the world, we can make a difference. If we all at once, pick one day in the year to stop everything we were “supposed to do,” if we linked arms and said: no more! This planet is equally part ours and we will not deal with the BS anymore until some real changes are made, it would happen. They world would take notice, things would change. They say hell has no fury like a woman scorned. Well, we are scorned every day. When one woman is in pain we all feel it in one way or another. We are all connected, so why aren’t we giving them hell until it stops?
Oana: Many African American women follow fashion trends which sometimes triggers a very negative response in the black community. Do you think that a hairstyle can change who one is?
Luna: No, but I believe a hairstyle can change the way people look at you. Whether the received attention is negative or positive, that depends on many factors. Where do you live? What is the hairstyle? Is it something outrageous with a multitude of colors? How do you carry yourself while sporting the new “do”? Hairstyles are like clothes, they don’t change you. But you should always consider their appropriateness for the situation at hand.
Oana: What are the most sensitive issues the African American woman encounters frequently and that are invisible to the white people’s eyes? What should we be more aware of?
Luna: The first one is definitely hair, it takes a ridiculous amount of time to style if straighten but if we keep it natural, Caucasians seem to feel like it’s too “ethnic.” And you might not get that job you just interview for because of it. Another is the lack of education when it comes to finances, we just don’t spend the time we should learning about wealth building, budgeting. And I would say a third is the stereotype that we are all loud, impolite, social misfits. We are NOT what you see on Real Housewives of wherever.
Oana: In an earlier conversation you mentioned the division within the women of color’s community. Can you tell us a little bit more about this?
Luna: I have to say it’s irony at its best. We fight, and scream and point fingers at people about racism but a dark skinned girl will shun a light skin girl for her skin color in a second. Or a light skin girl will shun a black girl for the color of her skin. There seemed to be this credence that the depth of the melanin in your skin will make you someone better or worse even within in the black community. It’s absurd of course, but nonetheless it’s there.
Oana: Tell us a little bit about your work.
Luna: My purpose through my writing is to enlighten, to educate and to motivate. My first novel Men Are Not the Problem is about a young woman who has to come to term with the fact that she has thus far in her life allowed herself to be abuse by men because she thought she “loved” them. It’s an observation into the twisted view we have of love, and how we could see something is wrong, but choose to ignore until it’s too late. My second narrative is a journal/short story collection that I put together for people who want something more out their lives. Twenty two stories and activities that help you learn who you really are, what your purpose is and how to go about achieving it. My hope is that everyone takes something away when they read my work. That it changes the reader’s life in some fashion, that it makes you think, reflect on what this life is truly about.
Oana: What is your advice for the young generation of African American women?
Luna: You are stronger than you think you are. More beautiful than you can possibly imagine. And have a destiny planed for you by God, which no one can take from you. Stop imitating people that are not worth your time. And if you want wealth, happiness and a more fulfilled life, read more, I’m talking about fiction. Fiction is great, I write fiction and nonfiction. It’s great to curl up to a good book now and then and get lost in the story. But you need to read more nonfiction also, add some philosophy, finance and motivational books to your reading list. Knowledge is power and power is success.
Oana: Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.
© 2013 by Oana
To learn more about Luna and her works click here http://www.lunacharles.com/
To learn more about Author Oana visit www.thehealings.net