Laughing In the Dark, From Colored Girl to Woman of Color
— a Journey from Prison to Power
I was a reporter searching for an idea for a book when I wrote a personal essay about my life for the Washington Post. It was at a time when we journalists were writing a lot of stories about how young black men were killing one another. They were calling these youths “the lost generation,” young men growing up without fathers generally. But everywhere I went to cover these young men—to jails, courts and too often funerals—I saw young women who were affected by the lives of these young men they had chosen to love. The girls reminded me of myself. So I wrote an essay that was part tale of my life and part interviews of some of the young women--baby girls talking about why they liked “bad” boys. I recognized myself in these half-grown girls but being older, I knew they didn’t realize what I now knew: What they were searching for was not in someone else, but inside of them.
I had been searching for an idea for a book. After I wrote the essay, agents called me. I already had an agent, though, and I knew I had found my first book.
I will always have a special relationship with this book because it was my first born. LID introduced me to the life of an author, allowed me to meet millions of people and to be humbled and grateful for the love they have given to me because I took a risk and exposed my soul.
Excerpt from Laughing in the Dark, From Colored Girl to Woman of Color
— A Journey from Prison to Power
So this is my ode to those young sisters, those children with womanish ways, who give it up before there is really anything to give; those tender block girls who I did not have enough time to talk to because I was on deadline.
I want them to know that no matter how low they fall, they can get back up; no matter how many times they stumble, they can still walk tall. That neither racism not sexism can stop a determined mind, or a heart beating with love for the very body that carries it. It is a lesson for all people, regardless of race or sex; for anyone who has had to overcome a challenge.
Moments of Grace, Meeting the Challenge to Change
I returned from my tour for Laughing in the Dark, exhausted and joyful. I had traveled to some 24 cities or towns in 30 days. I reviewed what I had seen and heard and was struck by comments I heard repeatedly that in some form conveyed this message, “I love your story, but not everyone can do what you did.” Or “What you’ve done is great but I have a cousin who can’t get off drugs.”
I couldn’t argue. Everyone is not going to get off drugs, stop stealing or seek therapy. But now at home, relaxed, I wondered if I could offer a little more advice or knowledge about the process of change. So I thought about my own process. What had I done? How did I do it?
I delved deeper and found that my answer was my next book. In Moments of Grace I identified 10 personal issues that became my chapters. This is my baby that taught me how much I had actually learned since I was that young and confused woman who spent a summer in jail. It was painful to sit and write about what was at the time some of my more recent history. I grieved again over a string of deaths of beloved friends who had died of AIDS. I wrote my way into enlightenment, discovering how much the work we do or job we have can teach us about what we need to heal within ourselves. More than my first book, writing MOG allowed me an opportunity to heal.
Excerpt from Moments of Grace, Meeting the Challenge to Change
To change is a mighty task, demanding faith, courage and perseverance. As much as we may want to change our entire life at once, we cannot. We must make it new one thread at a time. We must be patient and focused, because even though we can alter our exterior—where we live, where we work, who our friends are—we must still do the hard work of transforming our interior.
We make one change after another after another until our tapestry is complete and we have woven ourselves a sweet and magnificent life.
* * *
During my period of horrific self-hatred, I had one huge desire, one goal that kept me alive: I wanted to be somebody. Not a writer, a reporter, or an author. Other people had goals like that; I just wanted to think I was a person equal to everyone else. I wanted to believe I mattered to this earth. I wanted to believe I had worth.
What people have said about:
“Laughing in the Dark, From Colored Girl to Woman of Color —
A Journey from Prison to Power”
“Patrice Gaines sings a song of self-love, starting off with blues and ending with a triumphant gospel shout. For any woman who’s ever let love lead her astray, Patrice’s searing story will lead her back to the healing power of her own heart. This is a cautionary tale, a story for any woman who’s never loved herself enough. And for her daughters.”
– Bebe Moore Campbell, author of
Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine and Brothers and Sisters
“This book transfers the fabled wondrous strength, determination, and fortitude of the African-American woman from the realm of historical legend to contemporary reality. Laughing in the Dark is irrefutable testimony to the indomitable spirit of the African-American woman."
– Claude Brown, author of Manchild in the Promised Land
What people are saying about:
“Moments of Grace, Meeting the Challenge to Change”
“Patrice Gaines has lived a life of utmost incredible triumph over tremendous odds. She proves it can be done, and in Moments of Grace, she reveals the key.”
– Marianne Williamson, author of a Return To Love
“Moments of Grace is a powerful and invaluable book that will help anyone who is ready to meet the challenge to change. Thank you, Patrice Gaines, for sharing your wisdom and your ways.”
– Iyanla Vanzant, author of Acts of Faith