InspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer community—everyone from artists to activists. Each month ELIXHER features someone whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. This month ELIXHER spotlights author, speaker and spiritual coach, Lakara Foster.

ELIXHER: Tell us about Lakara.
LAKARA: Wow. What a good place to start. I’m a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and a graduate of Florida A&M University. I am constantly evolving and I am in a space where I love myself something awful. I’m talking about unconditional love–flaws and all. Getting to this place wasn’t easy but I realize that all of what I have gone through in my life was intricately designed to get me right where I am today. My purpose in life is to teach women and girls how to use their experiences for their gain.

ELIXHER: How did you come about being in Atlanta?
LAKARA: The first time I visited Atlanta was 1996. From the moment I arrived here for that visit, I was drawn to the energy of the city. I didn’t end up moving here until 2005 but I knew when I left Tallahassee, Florida that this was the place for me.

ELIXHER: What motivates you?
LAKARA: My spirituality motivates me. I know without a shadow of a doubt what my purpose is and that I am here on a very divine assignment to empower women and girls and I just really want to do the best I can doing just that.

ELIXHER: You wrote A Grown Woman’s Guide to Greatness: Eight Spiritual Lessons You Must Learn Today! What would you say is your favorite lesson?
LAKARA: My favorite lesson is Lesson # 2: Stop Apologizing for your Greatness.

ELIXHER: Why?
LAKARA: I think too often as women we prefer to fade into the background rather than allowing our light to shine because it makes other people feel comfortable. I challenge women to step into their Greatness this year, despite how it makes anyone else feel.

ELIXHER: You’ve appeared on several different television shows and have performed for various audiences. One of those happened to be Oprah. What was that like?
LAKARA: First of all, I have been #TeamOprah since the 80’s and have never stopped being a fan and student of hers. In 2001, right after graduate school, I had the opportunity to be a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show. The show was titled “The Turbulent 20s” and discussed the strife of going through the quarter life crisis. Myself and about 10 other young women got the chance to talk about the struggles and angst of graduating college and not knowing what we were supposed to do with ourselves. After the show, we got a chance to talk intimately with Oprah about how to find our purpose and discover our destiny. She said, “The problem with your generation is you all are not connected to the source and once you get connected to the source, all of the questions you have will be answered.” It took 11 years for those words to make sense to me, but in the process of writing this book I got a major “aha” moment. I realized that Oprah had given us the “what to do” and this book is the “how to” guide to achieving that connection to the source.

ELIXHER: You describe yourself as being “retired.” How are you retired at such a young age?
LAKARA: [Laughs.] I was laid off from my job last year, but I realized that was a part of God’s plan to push me into my purpose. I have watched God move in my life like never before because I decided to trust Him and to commit to working on my divine assignment. It feels so good to be making my own way in the world and not having to clock in to a 9 to 5. This is what true freedom feels like! This is what retirement feels like!

ELIXHER: What has been the biggest and toughest lesson you’ve had to learn from writing your first book?
LAKARA: The biggest lesson I have learned is that you have to be present in all aspects of your book. I am very hands on and even though I have an agent and publicist, I still hustle to make sure I get interviews on radio, television, magazines, etc…I am and have been a part of the entire development of the book.

ELIXHER: What does it mean to you to be doing the work you’re doing right now?
LAKARA: It means everything to me. I am in such an awesome space to be able to write and speak. This is the life I have envisioned for myself for a very long time, so to be here in this moment and getting paid to do what I love is a dream come true. One that I wish everyone could experience.

ELIXHER: What do you think it means to be a queer Black woman in America today?
LAKARA: I think this is the best time to really stand up and be proud of all parts of ourselves, to claim all parts of ourselves, and to embrace all parts of ourselves. I think when a Black queer woman does this, she becomes fearless.

ELIXHER: What makes you most proud to be a part of this community? What brings you the biggest frustration?
LAKARA: As a previous guidance counselor, I think I would say it makes me proud to see so many kids be a part of on-campus LGBTQ organizations and to be openly out and proud of who they are. Also to see their straight friends become their biggest allies. My biggest frustration is that “gay” is still an issue.

ELIXHER: What’s something people wouldn’t know about you?
LAKARA: Most people wouldn’t know that I am deathly afraid of alligators…for no particular reason, I just am. [Laughs.]

ELIXHER: What’s next for Lakara?
LAKARA: I am currently writing the second book in the Grown Woman Guide series. I have several speaking engagements, workshops, and retreats planned but more importantly I am living and loving life to the fullest.

For more information about Lakara Foster, visit her website: www.lakarafoster.com. Stay connected on Facebook (GrownWomanGuide) and Twitter (@grownwomanguide).

-Interview by Tia. N. Williams

Tia N. Williams is a graduate student at the University of Georgia pursuing her M.Ed in College Student Affairs Administration. Tia has developed a passion for empowering young people around social justice issues. She aspires to be a Dean of Students at a college or university in the future.

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Your go-to resource for all things empowering, thought-provoking, and pertinent to Black queer and trans women and non-binary people.

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