A.P.R.I.L – “Design Your Own Destiny,” says Monciana Mitchelle
Monciana Mitchelle believes in the power of free will — the power to choose to design your own destiny. Monciana grew up at a very turbulent time in Kingston, Jamaica, where her only means of upward social mobility was through education. At only 17 years old, Monciana immigrated to the United States to pursue her education, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Herbert H. Lehman College in the Bronx.
Grace Jones, Madge Sinclair and Pam Grier, are the strong Jamaican female role models Monciana Mitchelle looks to for inspiration. “Remember Nanny of the Maroons, to remember their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers. Remember the sacrifices of our ancestors. You honor them when you conduct yourself with dignity and respect when you make use of all the positive changes they gave to you with their sacrifices of blood and sweat. Honor your ancestors at all times.”
The actress and skilled fighter in Krav Maga, Brazilian Jujitsu, Shotokan Karate, and MMA is speaking out to women around the world, letting them know they have the power to choose their own path.
Monciana was not always a fighter; she had to learn how to believe in herself first. “It’s not even the big battles, it’s the small things — getting up out of bed when you don’t feel like it, not responding when someone says you are fat and ugly, or just turning up and being the ‘best you’ that you can be.” In one of her past relationships, her partner demanded she conforms to the archaic views of women. “He called me a stupid no good woman, while at the same time expecting me to be loving and submissive.”
“Women’s rights are a global problem that will take generations to fix. It is better for me than it was for my mother; for instance, now women are encouraged to wear their hair natural. My mom recalls when she got a job at the library service in Kingston, Jamaica and she was pressured to chemically straighten her hair.”
Monciana is honored to represent the woman in Jamaica and around the world. She believes it’s time for this needed change. “The movement A.P.R.I.L is empowering and I hope it encourages more women to take responsibility for their own lives and work hard at achieving and accomplishing personal goals.”
How can people relate to you?
“They must know that it is ok to make mistakes and start all over if they need to. That is what I keep doing; I keep starting over, reinventing myself and learning new things. We all screw up, but instead of lashing out and hurting yourself and others, you just start anew.”
Thoughts on life?
‘The Four Agreements’ come closest and I sprinkle a little of my Judeo-Christian background onto them: Be impeccable with your word; don’t take anything personally; don’t make assumptions; and always do your best (Don Miguel Ruiz.) “Work hard for what you want, do what makes you happy… do unto others what you would have them do unto you… Do no harm and be accountable and responsible for your actions.”
Do you consider yourself a leader?
“I am a leader. For most of my life, I have tried to avoid that, but someone is always watching and you never know when someone can learn something and gain some insight just by seeing your actions. That is why my life is one that is ruled first and foremost by integrity, honesty and the willingness to work for what I want to accomplish.”
What were your struggles?
“What I have learned from my struggles is that it is never too late to start over and that another person’s opinion does not define you. I was married and expected to be married, but it did not work out and it felt like my life was over, but it forced me to learn to create a life separate and apart from any partner. I find that in order to be in a successful relationship, one needs to be able to stand alone if necessary and that strength is within and not from without.”
How do you feel about women’s rights in America?
“Women still don’t have the right to make important decisions about their bodies. In 2017, there should not be legislation governing my reproductive rights. Also, the work/life balance for women who choose to bear children, sexual harassment in the workplace and the right to earn the same as men are important issues.”
How will you empower women?
“By being myself and by helping other women who are transfixed by age-old gender roles that just no longer work in the modern world and that restrict their personal development. Some women don’t know that there is another way, that they have the choice to create and design the kind of life they want.”
Are you a superhero?
“Yes, women are superheroes, because no matter what is going on in their lives, they are able to balance their personal struggles with the overwhelming task of caring for their families and their communities. I mean if it was not for my mom doing this I would not have known that I could balance a full-time class schedule at college, play basketball, work and still have time to make sure that my child remembers my face.”
Are you a survivor of abuse?
“Yes, being a survivor of domestic violence I think is more of a mind set and that takes generations to overcome. We all know that we live in a free society, but in our hearts do you actually believe that a woman has the right to feel safe in her skin? That she has the right to make decisions about her body and her life? On the other hand, it does help us as women if we slow down a bit, spend some time with a potential mate before making it serious, see if your values match and always pay attention to red flags.”
Have you ever been bullied?
“Oh yes, I have been bullied as a child and as an adult. We must teach people to respect differences and to respect people’s personal choices. I think of everybody’s child as if they are my own. Always learn to respect other people’s lives and their property.”
What are your future plans?
“As far as future plans and career goals, I want to work hard and learn to play more.”
What’s that little secret you’re hiding?
“I have one tattoo that says, Made in Jamaica.”
Do you love your body?
“I had to learn to love my body. As a child I felt so ashamed that I was a late bloomer. In my teens, I did not quite like the way I looked because I was always comparing myself to others. Then I had a child and she totally changed everything! And as a part of my journey to becoming a better person, I had to learn to look at myself in the mirror and learn to love what I saw. I love working, enjoy eating a good meal and I no longer starve myself. I love myself enough to take care of myself in every way which includes sleeping enough, eating healthy and not having unprotected sex.”
If I could make the world a better place, what would it be?
“I would make it mandatory that all children received a free education all the way through high school at least. I believe that education gives people tools to navigate our increasingly complex world and gives kids a chance to experience other ways of doing things and learn about other people in other parts of the globe. Education is not based on biased opinions and is the great equalizing force.”