I started out as an independent author; hired an indie publishing company to help produce my first print book in 2007. It was my first public stance on integrating authentic living with mindful parenting. Like all my books, (I’ve written seven more since then) it was a result of me questioning my current situation, wanting something different, and wondering how the hell I could get from my then-current circumstance to the space I wanted to be in.
I started blogging about the same topic I wrote about in the book, and in a couple years, I was featured in a major magazine. I started working with a few brands, wrote a couple more books, started doing public speaking at small events, and eventually went into life coaching, working with women looking to make shift from day jobs they hated to entrepreneurship doing work they loved, living lives that matched up with how they wanted to see themselves.
As a life coach, I was in the Emotional Wellness business, and that work was fulfilling. It taught me a lot about how our unresolved feelings, our backstories, and in many cases, our childhood experiences could serve as tools to power us up in adulthood, or hold us back from really owning ourselves and taking charge of our own lives.
The work transitioned from a focus on managing and naming emotions, to exploring and expressing the things that define us, and the things that have the most powerful influence over our choices. I took to calling that work/practice Radical Self-Expression.
Through the practice, I worked with hundreds of women—in person, through books, online courses, and virtual coaching—to make space for deep self-study, including recognizing our natural patterns and core values, and getting comfortable with expressing and protecting our needs inside our relationships.
For me, radical self-expression work over the past six years led me to participate in my own liberation, and that of my children, with their father, my partner, by embracing self-directed education in the form of Unschooling.
Unschooling isn’t just about education and children, it’s about how adults and children live together, and how adults and children get to be themselves while they learn, grow, and define themselves.
My partner and I are entrepreneurs who see the importance of being producers, not just consumers. As people of color, we see the urgency in learning how to prioritize an understanding of how to provide for ourselves and contribute to our communities without relying so heavily on someone to employ us, or someone to fund our school district, or someone to see the value in our lives.
For my family, unschooling is a tool for decolonizing our education and liberating ourselves from oppressive, exclusive systems.
We believe in learning and living with education as an organic process that cannot reach its heights if it’s confined to a particular curriculum or set of instructions. It has to happen organically, with support and encouragement from our communities, and trust in our children to articulate their needs, and our ability to observe and support without trying to mold them into something they are not.
By researching, reporting on, and facilitating discussion around unconventional parenting and lifestyle choices for people of color in particular, I join the many others who have been working to create space for themselves to live, learn, and thrive in healthy relationships with children.
To join me in working toward the liberation of people of color through radical self-expression and self-directed education, sign up for my newsletter by putting your name and email address below.
My writings (in my books and freelance writing) are about personal leadership, personal power, ownership of self, valuing of culture, centering contributions to communities. I teach courses designed to help women make more space for their needs and to create systems for their own liberation. The weekly podcast I produce will continue to highlight people of color immersed in the reclaiming of themselves, or in some cases their children, and in all cases, their right to explore and express whoever they are authentically.
In all of this, my goal is to offer resources and community where people feel free and supported as we form our own identities, push back against normalized institutional racism, and participate in creating and broadening the spaces where we can thrive as ourselves, whether mainstream society understands us or not. Contact: she at akilah s richards dotc om.