Sharon’s Blog

National Domestic Violence Prevention Month

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In my book published by Westbow Press titled, “Screen Door” I wrote about the domestic violence (then called wife-beating) I experienced as a child.  From a child’s perspective, living with this type of violence can turn your world upside down.  Trying to figure out how the man you love most in the world, your father, could hurt your mother so severely and heartless.  A child sees the parents as one and equal in responsibility and authority.  Once the father subjects the mother to such harsh abuse, the child then sees the father as the authority figure over everyone in the family and reduce the mother as one of the siblings.  Domestic violence engulfs the child in fear and a whole lot of anxiety.  Back in the days when I was a child, domestic violence in the home was kept secret.  Not only is spousal abuse hurtful and embarrassing, to a child it is mentally disabling. 

Since the Ray Rice incident when he punched his then girlfriend in an Atlantic City casino elevator, the issue of domestic violence came to the forefront.  People are discussing it out in the open on television, radio and social media.  Because cameras were on the elevator taping the incident, people actually SAW it happening in real time.  The NFL will broadcast commercials showing football players telling the audience not to accept any excuse from an abuser.  This a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.  There must be some intervention in mental dysfunctions, chemical dependency and anger management.   

Most adults who have lived through domestic violence as children grow to try and bury it in their minds.  They choose not to remember because it is too painful to revisit and may conjure up unwanted feelings against the abuser.  It takes a great deal of courage to even talk about it.  Now that so many incidence of spousal abuse is in the news today, the discussion will bring light to it and maybe finally society can deal with it.  Once we recognize the symptoms and the way we respond to it, there is a chance to change and eliminate this scourge altogether so that children in the future may never have to grow up with an abusive parent. 

New Book Titled – SCREEN DOOR: A MEMOIR

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

New Book Titled – SCREEN DOOR: A MEMOIR

Article printed from the Co-op City Times:

Co-op City woman publishes her second memoir detailing the painful events of her childhood
By BILL STUTTIG

Three years ago, Section 5 resident Sharon D. Smith made a name for herself after she wrote and published a memoir entitled My Life at the World Trade Center which detailed her life as a young struggling mother who, one day on a whim, applied for and won a secretarial position at the World Trade Center which changed her life for the better for over two decades there, but also brought her to the center of the two most infamous terrorists attacks on U.S soil, and how she narrowly survived both.
With that success behind her, earlier this month, she released her second memoir, a prequel to her first book, which detailed her childhood and her progression into young adulthood, growing up under adverse conditions while living in a public housing development in Harlem and in low-income communities in south Florida during the 1960’s and early ‘70s.
The new book is entitled, Screen Door, in reference to the screen door that she says has been placed over her heart during her life to keep away hurtful memories of her childhood. As she wrote in a message to her readers at the outset of the new book, “I am only releasing the latch on my screen door to relive the events that I have endured so that I may help others.”
She said this week in an interview with the Co-op City Times that perhaps the most integral way the book can help others is by starting a frank discussion on the ongoing problem of intra-racial prejudice — the problem of African-Americans being discriminated against by other African-Americans because of the shading of their skin.
She details in the book how her dark-shading made her an outcast among her young peers – other African American school children – during much of the 1960s from early in grade school through high school and even into her years entering the work force as a young adult in the 1970’s.
“I wrote the book to try to help curb the intra-racial prejudice that still exists today,” Sharon said, adding that her children were not aware of the problems that she endured as a child until reading the book. “The other day, I got a call from my son who recently read the book and he said ‘Mom, I went through all of that too.’ He told me how he was made fun of, like me, and how he had to fight through school. You never know how many people this effects so the book gives people affected by this a chance to see that they are not the only ones. The problem still exists and maybe by me telling my story I will be helping someone else, someone who is young today and going through the same thing.”
Sharon said the other theme that is prevalent through the book is domestic violence, the problem of having an abusive parent and alcoholism in the home that is often the cause of these problems.
“A lot of tears and a lot of reliving these experiences came out when I began to write,” she said.
Sharon said the idea came from a reunion of residents of her former Harlem housing development that she attended a few years ago and after that, memories of her childhood that were long repressed came flooding out. She began writing them down and before long the book started taking shape starting with when she was just five years old, telling the story as if seeing the world through the eyes of a five-year old and then as the book continues you start seeing her world through the eyes of a maturing child and then a teenager forced to cope with life’s hardships while shielding her younger siblings from most of those same hardships as best as she could.
She said the book was written over 18 months as she wrote daily, sometimes until early in the morning.
The first manuscript presented to her editor was over 500 pages long as all the memories long repressed were poured out onto the pages. Her editors, one of whom was the famed author Hillel Black, began removing certain sections for clarity, to eliminate redundancy, and to reduce liabilities.
The finished product is 210 pages long, telling the story of growing up amidst a wide variety of societal problems both in and outside the home, but yet persevering through it all thanks largely to the goodness of some of those around her like family, neighbors from the housing development in which she lived and also because of her faith in God.
Sharon’s daughter, Sharonda, who, like her other three siblings knew little of her mother’s past life before reading this book, said, “My mother is a great person who had to go through her struggles to get to where she is now.” Sharonda added that to arrive at this point where her books are published and read by many others did not come overnight, but rather was the product of hard work and much studying at various colleges through many years. “All of that has resulted in what she is today. I think she had done a phenomenal job in getting to where she is today coming from what she had to go through as a child. I realize now that despite everything, my grandmother did a lot with her life and my mother did a lot with her life so now the ball is in my court.”
Sharonda is currently pursuing her Master’s degree and hopes to one day start her own business.
Sharon’s Christian beliefs and the Christian lifestyle she has learned from her mother, Rev. Dr. Ruth Singletary, and later passed on to her own family, is perhaps the central theme of the book as she credits her Christian belief for getting her through life’s difficulties, both then and now.
The book is published by Westbow Press, a Christian publisher, who is currently marketing the book through its own website: http://bookstore.westbowpress.com. The book is also available though both Amazon and Barnes and Noble at its websites, respectively: www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.
Sharon added that she sells many of her books, both this one and her first one, through personal appearances at churches and Christian conferences, mostly in southern states such as Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas, but also in this region. Her works are also marketed through Christian magazines.
“When you go through a Christian publisher, they go through the book to make sure you are not saying anything that is too far out there,” Sharon said, pointing out that when you recall an expression commonly used 50 years ago, it might not be accepted today.
She said that she hopes her next work will not be so personal, but rather delve into the evolution of the Christian faith that she grew up with and still lives by today, telling the story of how the faith has evolved over the past 50 years of her life.
She said in the book’s acknowledgements that she owes her life and success to God. “He gave me the will to live and comforts me, keeping my mind in peace.”

New Year 2014

Posted by on Feb 17, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Starting a new year with new aspirations, new hopes and dreams can be challenging.  Here we are, one and a half months into the year 2014 and already so much has occurred.  We are experiencing severe weather across the nation, even around the world; snowstorms, floods, severe droughts and fires, intermingled with earthquakes and record-breaking negative cold temperatures!  Added in for good measure, something called a tsunami — a Noah sized flood washing out entire cities in Japan!! Will this be the new normal? I certainly hope not.   In addition, hearing the news and current events makes me long for the days of old.

In the year 1967 at the age of nine and ten, my sister and I calculated how old we will be in 1977 and 1987.  Then we calculated how old we will be in 1997.  We will be in our forties!  We could not imagine being that old, nor the year 2000!  How could we say January 1, 2000?  Just didn’t sound right.

With all the dramatic and traumatic changes occurring in the new 21st century, I agree with Stevie Wonder’s song, “I Wish” (I wish those days would come back once more.  I wish those days never had to go.) Stevie wrote this song in the seventies.  Since he is only five years older than me, I gather he was singing of his, or should I say ‘our’ childhood in the sixties.  The lyrics captures the way of life growing up during that time on a personal level.

I am in no way glorifying the 1960s.   What I am emphasizing is the innocence of the time.  In some sense, those were years of constants.  We walked around oblivious of unthinkable and unimaginable harm that may befall us.  No one ever thought of someone walking into an elementary school and shooting all the little children and their teachers; or someone walking into a mall and shooting innocent shoppers; or a person dressed like his hero on a video game shooting up the theatre.  In fact, we felt safe going to these places.

My sense of security quickly vanished when my place of employment was bombed.  In my mind, the first attack on the World Trade Center, the deaths, black smoke and the big crater in the ground, only happened on the news, someplace else, far away.  I was trapped in an elevator between the 53rd and 54th floors in Tower One, praying for God to save us.  Believing this to be the action of one misguided kook, I became fully aware of the level of hatred that exists in the world when an airplane rammed into Tower One on 9/11.  I was sitting at my desk on the 61st floor in Tower One when the first plane slammed into the building.   You can read my account of both events in my memoir, “My Life At The World Trade Center”.

I am keeping the faith for 2014.  I pray for peace, believing within myself that with the help of God, all things are possible. I pray for the return to innocence.  A return to a day children can attend school without getting killed by a deranged person with an automatic machine gun or any gun. A day where toddlers can play without rival gangs shooting across the playground.  I pray to return to the time when people can walk the malls and movie theatres without the fear of becoming victims of a mass shooting.  It may be that my aspirations, hopes and dreams are for a bygone era. Nevertheless, I am holding out hope my prayers will be answered for even this day and time.  As for the weather, well, truthfully, I am just grateful for heat, hot water and electricity; and pray none of those blessings are shut off.

No One Should Cry on Christmas Day

Posted by on Dec 4, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This time of year brings back memories of all the Christmases I had with my family. Most of them were joyous, happy, exciting and filled with love. Christmas Eve nights were the most torturous, trying to sleep knowing that Mama will be going in the closets and taking our dolls and toys out in the middle of the night for the next day. Please, please, please sleep, please fall on me so that I could wake up the next day and it will be Christmas day. I can hear the ruffling of the packages, bags and plastic packaging of the toys as Mama lay our new dolls and toys in the living room by the tree. I can hear some of the toys making music, bells ringing accidently as Mama tries to lay them gently down so as not to wake us from our anxious sleep. Then Mama put the peppermint candy canes, candy, nuts and fruits next to our toys so we can have treats while we play with our new toys.
Christmas is really about Jesus Christ coming to earth and being born to the Virgin Mary to save us from our sins. We learn this in Sunday School. The three wise men bought gifts to the baby Jesus, and that is why we give gifts on Christmas. The greatest gift is God giving us Jesus for the saving of our souls. As a child, I was most happy about the toys and candy we receive. The joy and happiness of receiving gifts was Christmas to me. I will learn as I grew older to really appreciate the true meaning of Christmas and how much more this Gift from God will envelop me in love all the days of my life. I will know that many Christmases will come and go when I will not receive material gifts, but I will still smile because the greatest gift in the world I had already received. God loved us enough to give the world His greatest gift, His Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas! I awake and yes, it is day. The night is over and my heart leaps with joy because the long awaited day has finally arrived. I jump out of my bed and run into the living room, and there she is – my new doll. I grab her, hold her, and squeeze her close. My brothers are so excited, too, as they play with their fire trucks and little green army soldiers. We laugh, giggle and look around in amazement at all the toys, wrapping paper, candy canes and lights. Mama guides my baby brother over to his little section of toys. He toddles over and picks up a little truck but begins to cry. No, no, don’t cry! Nobody cries on Christmas! I can’t imagine anyone ever crying on Christmas Day.