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Dear Self: A Year in the Life of a Welfare Mother


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In his speech titled Change We Can Believe In, President Obama said: "A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families--a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods--parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pickup, building code enforcement--all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continues to haunt us" 

Imam Zaid Shakir came of age when segregation was not yet a distant memory and opportunity was systematically constricted. What is remarkable is how many men and women overcame the reality of welfare and single parent homes to succeed as successful, productive members of and leaders in society. Imam Shakir details the struggles of families like his, in the foreword written to the award winning memoir Dear Self: A Year in the Life of a Welfare Mother. 

Dear Self chronicles the real life journal of a young African American mother struggling to raise her seven children amidst the crushing poverty of housing projects, impassive public policy and deep-rooted discrimination. Restricted by unfortunate circumstance, 39-year old Richelene Mitchell expresses her intense literary yearning and activist awareness by writing letters to herself. 

An open and moving memoir of the trials and platitudes of life, Dear Self is very likely the first literary work of its kind. Narrations in crystalline prose tell of a system that snares it's most vulnerable; of endless poverty and sacrifice, hope and conflict, societal prejudices and a precarious health condition endured in secret. 

Though penned almost 35 years ago, the message of this award-winning book is still clear and astoundingly relevant. With a foreword written by her first-born son Imam Zaid Shakir, American Muslim scholar, professor and writer, Dear Self is a valuable resource for those seeking to understand the exhausting reality of the dark corners and sharp edges of poverty in America. A reality that continues to be faced by millions of American people, whose quiet plight is rarely heard or voiced in such articulate and graceful words. 

Dear Self: A Year in the Life of a Welfare Mother is a Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award Bronze Winner and a Next Generation Indie Book Award winner. 

ISBN: 978-0-9792281-0-0 


Library Journal Book Review 

Duck Duck Book Review 

Manchester Public Library - New Adult Material 

Good Reads 

About The Forword Author

Professor, writer and noted scholar, Imam Zaid Shakir has been described as a "leading intellectual light" by the New York Times and as "one of the towering principle voices not only in contemporary Islam, but in American society". 

Imam Zaid Shakir was born in Berkeley, California. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and earned a BA in International Relations at the American University in Washington, D.C. and an MA in Political Science from Rutgers University. He has written numerous articles for various magazines, journals, newspapers, and author of the groundbreaking books "Heirs of the Prophets" , and "Scattered Pictures", Imam Zaid Shakir currently teaches full-time at the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, California as a scholar - in - residence. 

Imam Zaid Shakir is a vastly important voice, particularly in President Obama's America. In the spirit of the great scholars of the past, the Imam embodies the rationality, spirituality and breadth of traditional knowledge, as well as cutting-edge academic intellect. Imam Shakir leaves a lasting impression; his ability to move hearts and minds encompasses all faith denominations and walks of life. 


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