Aria Williams

The Book That Will Read You

Khalil Saadiq. A name that holds an infinite amount of meaning, substance, and light in my life. It was this picture that gave me a taste of how remarkable of a person Khalil was before I even got the opportunity to meet him.

He was gallantly in the forefront alongside his Howard University classmates, to show their support with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” movement. The movement began as a way to show peoples boost morale –among the outraged, create positive media attention circulating the aftermath of the event, and most importantly, display solidarity after the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, who was shot several times and killed by a police officer Saturday in Ferguson, MO. The photograph was taken after the news spread to the students that an alumna of Howard University, Mya White was shot in the head while protesting in Ferguson, MO.

Khalil who was Director of Student Advocacy of the Howard University Student Association came up with the idea of taking the picture which ended up going viral and even appearing on networks such as CNN. Like most of my classmates, this fellow Bison was strong, courageous, ambitious and wasn’t afraid to say whatever was on his mind, but something was different about Khalil. He had a demeanor and aura that instantaneously inspired me. Whether it was hearing about him boldly calling someone out on their blatant ignorance or merely showering individuals around him with well-deserved gratitude and appreciation, I knew that having a relationship with such an uncompromising individual would be more than meaningful.

Who would’ve known that our relationship would have developed from a casual “hi” in passing to me having the pleasure of revealing Khalil’s latest (and biggest) secret? Well, here it is…

Winning Your Race Book Cover

Khalil Saadiq is a student of life, activist, a friend and now an author currently stationed in Landstuhl, Germany, Saadiq initiates an upbeat and informal conversation with the reader, providing advice and encouragement on how to navigate through life through the eyes of a former social activist and attendee of Howard University. In Winning Your Race: Unconventional Truths From A College Dropout he explains what he believes to be the meaning of the “race” that one runs in life, while simultaneously admitting that even he does not have his own race figured out and essentially “won” just yet. Pulling quotes and guidance from a number of sources, Saadiq eloquently guides the reader to discover more about oneself. And that’s why Saadiq’s novel will actually read the sh*t out of you. Here’s a preview of the energy and frequencies provided in Saadiq’s novel.

Took my own advice and became the change. More Focused than ever. More Fortunate than ever. Book available soon. Visit the link in my bio for more info.

A post shared by Khalil. (@focusxfortune) on Feb 6, 2018 at 4:01pm PST

GET TO KNOW KHALIL 

What is the most important thing you want the reader to gain from reading your book?

A very practical and applicable thought process when it comes to self-realization and then self-improvement. One of the most difficult things to do is look in the mirror and realize who you are. Once you realize who you are, you can accept that person, and once you accept that person, you can push yourself into being anything that you would like to be. You can align yourself with your purpose and your environment and can achieve your wildest desire, but it starts with self-awareness and then you can step into self-acceptance. If readers take anything from the book, I’d like it to be that there is no ‘right’ way to continue on your journey and run your race’ towards your purpose. No one can run your race for you; it’s only yours…it’s filled with unique obstacles and circumstances that only you will experience, but you have to realize and accept and then collaborate with your inner self so that you can win your ‘race.’ I want people to realize that there are some tenants and rules that everyone can abide by for assistance but ultimately it falls down on them, and once people accept that personal responsibility and stop playing a victim to their own circumstances and get in the driver’s seat, the results that they produce will be outstanding.

If you could pick one word to describe yourself what would it be and why?

Tenacious. I think tenacious does a good job of capturing not only that I am a person that is purposeful, but I’m unwavering. I very strongly believe in faith and faith in works. More often than not, people sit and hope for things and very passively wish good things would happen to them. If I could explain it, “faith” is the equivalent to being in your “race” and encountering a pit of fire that you have to jump over. Hope is walking through the fire and willing that you don’t get burnt…it doesn’t work. Faith is when you say ‘I’m going to everything in MY power and overcome this obstacle.’ You take some steps back, you leap to get over as much as the fire as you possibly can, and you’ll probably clear it because you did WORK and have faith in that work. It takes tenacity to do that. Tenacity to continue to apply yourself to your goals despite whatever insurmountable odds you might face. A person of tenacious quality is able to not only give themselves a purpose and attack it but do so despite whatever obstacles they encounter. That’s why I think that word fits me.

Photo by Alan Portrait

How did growing up in Birmingham, AL affect who you are today?

I am so grateful that I was born and raised there because we lack a lot of things that other cities typically have to identify with. The state of Alabama doesn’t have any professional teams. The city of Birmingham in itself has a university that’s prominent, but it’s not a “college town”. There just aren’t that many things to do in the state compared to other major states so we have to find our own way as the youth in the city and that led to a different level of authenticity. Without fluff, the population almost forces you to be authentic and identify with yourself…figure out who you are, be that person and then aggressively defend that person because other people are going to attack it. We don’t have a lot of commonalities just based on location to unite us so our character is what really makes the people from Birmingham strong and I was able to take that with me. You hear the stereotypes like ‘I’m from NY, I wear Timbs’ there aren’t things like that in Birmingham. You’re from Birmingham because you do what you say you’re going to do, you’re from Birmingham because you keep your word and THAT makes a difference, and it impacts me in the way I handle myself today.

In your book, you speak on Self-Doubt and how to prevent it. Describe an important time in your life where self-doubt hindered your growth.

For me, it was the defining antagonist for my middle and high school years. Just like most people, I was an uncomfortable teenager that didn’t fit in or felt like I didn’t fit in and saw people who were more popular or got more attention than me, and I would want it, and I didn’t have it. I doubted whether or not I deserved those things I wanted. One day, after trying to be all these different versions of myself…I just gave up, I felt like it was useless and just decided to be me. Almost aggressively, I was aggressively myself, and even though in the beginning it seemed to make people uncomfortable, eventually I had a name and reputation that was distinct to me, and I loved it… That is where I began to kill my own self-doubt, at the end of my high school career so by the time I got to Howard University, it was completely eliminated, BUT self-doubt came with a very unique awareness of where I was. If where I was, wasn’t where I wanted to be I didn’t blame anyone but myself and put pressure on myself to transform me into the person that I wanted to be so I could get the things I deserved. Middle school and high school self-doubt…it kicked my butt for a while.

Photo by Alan Portrait

You said your lowest moment was when you felt alone. How did it feel to go from feeling like you were on top of the world to almost rock bottom in a matter of weeks where no one really cared who you were?

With a doubt, the first semester of my junior year at Howard before I decided to leave. I had kinda based my tenure at Howard on being the Howard University Student Association President, and there was a lot of nonsense that happened with that, and I was deemed ineligible to run, and a lot of my identity was tied into that. Now I was in this new semester where I lost my academic scholarship, but I had signed an ROTC scholarship, the funds just hadn’t dispersed yet, but I didn’t have any money, and I knew that I was operating on borrowed time. So, I had to do a lot of stuff that I didn’t normally do to keep my money straight. Working for what I wanted was nothing new but working to get money was something that I hadn’t really had to do too much of at Howard. The things that people had previously seen me as I wasn’t any of those things anymore…I was in a completely different headspace and mentality, and this led to me being received differently. My situation was hard, and I was so prideful and thought that I was so self-accomplished that I would not open my mouth to ask for help, I had my jaw wired shut. I was trying to do everything on my own. It was a battle, a valiant effort but the odds were definitely stacked against me. Dealing with feeling isolated from my peers and my closest friends and trying to take on all the responsibility…that was an ugly time in my life.

And when you hit that point, How were you able to overcome it?  

To deal with that sh*t, overcome the low moment, I had to become vulnerable in a way that I hadn’t been before. I ended up talking to my family over the holiday break, and it was ugly at first, but I just told them what my situation was, from start to finish. When I got back to school, I told my closest friends (my fraternity brothers are included in that) and let everyone know exactly what I was dealing with. I was real honest about not wanting to be met with any pity of sympathy because I thoroughly believe that successful people create their circumstances and they don’t fall victim to them. I knew that these were circumstances that I had created. Not meaning that it was my fault, but it was 100% my responsibility to deal with it, and once I did that I was met by a variety of reactions and responses, but the most powerful one came from a line brother who told me, “Stop being so prideful that you can’t fix your lips to ask for help. You have people in your life who love you and are here for you because they want to help you. It doesn’t detract from the nature of your work by having people help you. You haven’t done anything in life by yourself, you’ve always had help. It’s insulting to us, the people that love you, that you wouldn’t come to us and ask for help.” and that gave me an entirely new level of conviction because I knew then but not only did I have my strength, I had the strength of all these other people in my life. I’m still not the type of person to ask for help; I would rather do it on my own BUT I know if I ever were to need it, the powerful responsive help is there. I really got people praying for me and that realization has led me to accomplish things in my daily life, my career and in my personal discipline.

Photo by Alan Portrait

Thank you so much to Khalil for taking the time to share his thoughts, views and what the process of creating this book was like. Winning Your Race: Unconventional Truths From A College Dropout will be available on Amazon next week. Go read his new piece of art and let me know what you think! Don’t forget to follow Khalil on Instagram and Twitter so you can be the first to know about his next moves.