In Rowana’s Shoes: Trusting Your Inner Voice
Name: Rowana Abbensetts-Dobson
Where do you live now? - Atlanta, Georgia
Industry: Media & Publishing
What does it mean to you to have a voice?
It means to trust your inner voice and open your heart up again and again to share your story.
How did you find your voice?
I found my voice through my culture and the environment I was raised in. I am the daughter of Guyanese immigrants and I grew up in South Jamaica, Queens, an Afro-Caribbean neighborhood. As a kid, I loved having such easy access to my culture. I remember Caribbean bakeries and eateries all over as well as reggae and soca parties lasting until the early hours during the summer. Growing up in Queens made me a staunch advocate for diversity and allowed me to have friends of all different races and cultural backgrounds.
What event or series of events helped you find your voice?
Self-expression was encouraged by my parents growing up, especially by my dad who is an artist. I recall him pushing me to paint and draw. Books were also available to me and the library was my happy place. I naturally started to write. I remember clearly one particular event that helped me find my voice. When 9/11 happened, I wrote a poem about it and I shared it with my family and class. It seemed so unlikely that me, a 9-year-old at the time, could capture what everyone was feeling, but I'll never forget the praise and support I received after reading it. It made me realize that I had a gift to share, something that could resonate with other people.
How did 2020 help you refine/redefine your voice?
2020 gave me this urgency to put myself out there, specifically with my book, Departure Story. I spent years perfecting the story but it never felt like "enough" or "ready." When faced with my own mortality and the mortality of my family and friends, I felt the urge to do whatever I could to move forward and get the book published. It has been a scary journey but I'm extremely glad I did it.