#BlackHistoryMonth Treat: How Playwright Lorraine Hansberry Inspired My Novel, Love’s Troubadours


My debut novel, Love’s Troubadours was inspired by a speech given by activist and playwright Lorraine Hansberry in February 1964. She spoke to a Harlem-based group of aspiring young, gifted, and African American writers about the power to love in America. In her remarks, Hansberry stated,

“O, the things that we have learned in this unkind house that we have to tell the world about! Despair? Did someone say despair was a question in the world? Well then, listen to the sons of those who have known little else. If you wish to know the resiliency of this thing you would so quickly resign to mythhood, this thing called the human spirit … Life? Ask those who have tasted of it in pieces rationed out by enemies. Love? Ah, ask the troubadours who have come from those who have loved when all reason pointed to the uselessness and foolhardiness of love. Perhaps we shall be the teachers when it is done. Out of the depths of pain we have thought to be our sole heritage in this world-O, we know about love!”

She referred to African Americans as troubadours, the descendents of people who used the power of love to live through and overcome despair and insurmountable odds. She went on to urge the audience to seek wisdom from African Americans because of their capacity to love.

I first read about Hansberry’s speech in Salvation by bell hooks in 2001. Salvation discusses how African Americans have used the power of love to transform their lives and communities. hooks’ writings caused me to question how I could use my gifts as an artist and writer to promote love as a healing tool in the lives of individuals and communities in America. I answered that question by writing Love’s Troubadours, a novel that tells the story of Karma Francois, a 30-something museum curator and yoga teacher who loses her job, discovers family secrets after a loved one dies, and begins a healing journey as she relocates from New York City to Washington, DC. Learn more about her in the video below.

Karma learns many life lessons as she comes face-to-face with the choices she has made in her life and relationships. Watch the video below and learn about some of them.

Throughout her journey, she uses journaling, meditation, mindfulness, poetry, spirituality, therapy, and yoga to heal and love herself. Hansberry’s wisdom on mindful living inspired the way I wrote about Karma’s healing journey:

 “I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and–I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations and generations.”

Watch the video below and learn how Karma’s healing journey transformed her idea of love in her life.

After reading Hansberry’s book, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, I made a conscious decision to use my novel’s characters to celebrate the beauty and diversity of people of African descent. Watch the video below and learn about the diverse characters.


Listen to a chapter excerpt from Love’s Troubadours that illustrates the diversity of African Americans when Karma walks into Mocha Hut, a coffee and tea café in her U Street neighborhood, and eavesdrops on a conversation.


Befriend Yourself

Becoming your own best friend is one of the greatest self-care gifts you can give yourself. It is loving kindness.


Take a moment to look into your eyes and befriend yourself today or this week. In that moment, ask yourself what you need to outsmart stress and thrive+work mindfully. Do one thing that helps you meet your need.


Join the #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, a four-week experience that invites you to practice and reflect on loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

Happy December: #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, Week 1 – Loving Kindness

AL-MeditatingatEMIHappy December! It’s the last month of 2017. It’s also my birthday month and an opportunity for me to share what I have learned so far in my mindfulness facilitator training program with the Engaged Mindfulness Institute (EMI). The EMI program started with a week-long silent retreat that was held in Deerfield, Massachusetts in September. One of my biggest takeaways from the retreat is the value of practicing loving kindness or metta towards myself each day. It is one of my four self-care vitamins (loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity) I use to outsmart stress and thrive+work mindfully.


Here’s my special gift for you: #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge, a four-week experience that invites you to practice and reflect on loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

Each week, I will share a video and invite you to participate in a self-care exercise that includes breathing exercises, reflection questions, and journaling. See the schedule below.

  • Week 1, December 4-10: Loving Kindness
  • Week 2, December 11-17: Compassion
  • Week 3, December 18-24: Joy
  • Week 4, December 25-31: Equanimity

Week 1 of #ThrivingMindfully Self-Care Challenge: December 4-10

Theme/Video: Loving Kindness

Invitation: Slow down and take three deep breaths. Touch your heart with one or both of your hands as you enter into a moment of stillness.

Take three more deep breaths.

Right where you are repeat this prayer out loud or silently three times: May I embody and express loving kindness.

Take three deep breaths. Thank yourself for showing up in the stillness.


Reflection Questions and Journaling Exercise: Take some time this week to reflect on and journal about one or more of the questions below.

  1. What does loving kindness mean?
  2. What does loving kindness look like in your life?
  3. What prevents you from embodying and expressing loving kindness for yourself?
  4. What do you want your loving kindness to look like in 2018?
  5. How can you add more moments of loving kindness into your daily, weekly, and monthly routines?