KISH: Tell us about you.
Shoshanah : I am the author of “Alizah’s Story: I Stutter”. It follows Alizah Grace on her first day of school as she learns that although she may speak differently from the other children, we all have something in common. She will remember that she is smart, beautiful and wonderfully made.
I have stuttered since I was a child. This made me feel very insecure and I have questioned God about why I had to be the one stuttered. I tried not to let it stop me because I always dreamed of becoming a preschool teacher. I wanted to follow in my grandmother and mother’s footsteps who were both educators. I was able to live out my dream and was a preschool teacher for twelve years.
When a family friend was impacted by the criminal justice system, I joined the Innocence Project. This organization helps exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. I am also a Certified Wedding and Event Planner.
KISH: What is your dream and how will accomplishing your dream benefit you and others?
Shoshanah : I have always been told I was a good writer. I think I got that gift because I stuttered. I was so much better expressing myself through my writing. When I was younger, I thought I was the only Black girl who stuttered. All the books and posters of children who stuttered did not look like me. I wanted to make sure that little Black and Brown girls now could see themselves and know that they are not alone.
KISH: Who or what inspired you to pursue this dream?
Shoshanah : I allowed my stutter to cripple me for too long. I avoided speaking in large groups. I would walk out the room just so I wouldn’t have to introduce myself because just saying my name is a task. My heart would feel as if it was going to come out of my chest and my thoughts go a mile a minute. The anxiety would overtake me because the last thing I wanted was for everyone to look at me as if there is something wrong with me. I do not make eye contact in those moments because I don’t want to see the smirks or confusion on people’s faces. This was my thinking for so long. When I made the decision to not be bound anymore, it was freeing. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t like my stutter, but I refuse to allow it to keep me from speaking. I see it now as my superpower and started thinking about the things I wish I could say to my younger self. What better way than to write a children’s book.
KISH: What challenges have you encountered while pursuing your dream?
Shoshanah :Getting out of my own way is a challenge. It is something Icontinue to work on. Becoming a brand in 2020 was also not easy. In 2019, I declared that 2020 was going to be my year. Now mind you, I said all of this before Kobe’s death, COVID-19, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, protests and what is probably the biggest election of my lifetime. 2020 has been rough on everyone. I’m trying to build a brand and promote positivity but how do you do that on social media when you feel as if your life and the world isn’t positive?
KISH:Who or what inspired you to keep pushing regardless of the challenges you’ve encountered?
Shoshanah :Writing and building the Alizah’s Story brand has given me courage that I never expected. It was like I had free therapy sessions. How could I write a story that tells a little Black girl that she could do anything, and I not take on that same courage for myself?
I was blessed to have an amazing mother. She may have been a single mom, but Deborah Kennedy made sure my sister Chaya and I had a village. From a young age they affirmed me to know that I was somebody and that I could do anything I set my mind to.
KISH: Please provide final thoughts/advice for others by finishing this sentence… dream.
Shoshanah : Dream big! Anything is possible so never stop dreaming. You may not be able to share your dream with everyone because not everyone sees what you see. Your dream is yours and it’s never too late to make it a reality.
A person’s difference, in my case a stutter does not define you. Those who stutter have the unique ability to teach the world to hear in a new way. I’m happy you’re listening.
Follow me on Instagram @alizahstory, Facebook Alizah’s Story or on my website alizahsstory.com. Alizah’s Story: I Stutter is available on amazon.com.