“We all have a story and our stories matter. They have the power to heal other people.”
The Her Nexx Chapter community is counting down the days until our next Book Chat with author, influencer and speaker LeTesha Wheeler who shares her real-life experiences in her book Half Breed: Finding Unity in a Divided World.
In anticipation of the event, we asked LeTesha to answer some of our most pressing questions and in so doing, caught a glimpse of the incredible woman behind the book. Read on to find out what we learned, including why she was drawn to write about healing and reconciliation, how her past has influenced her work and the words of wisdom she keeps close to her heart.
How have your life experiences shaped your perspective?
I moved around a lot and attended 13 different schools by the 10th grade in three culturally different states that ranged from suburbia, rural, urban, democrat, republican, rich, poor, Catholic, Baptist, Black and white. Those life experiences impacted me deeply and taught me how to love and relate to many different people regardless of their demographics.
With my mother being white and my father being Black, their marriage journey of going against the grain also had a great impact on my life. In a moment of analyzing what a gift I had been given, I realized through those difficult journeys, God gave me, down to my bloodline, the very keys to unlocking doors in a very divided world; it may have even been the purpose of my existence.
How has your family history influenced your work?
My foundation of uniting people of different backgrounds was built upon a rich heritage of the obstacles my family faced. My paternal grandparents are African American and raised 15 children in the segregated deep south during the most hostile period in our country. My maternal grandparents overcame harsh conditions coming to America from Europe to make a life for their family. My grandmother had fled Germany during the time of Hitler and escaped through the East Berlin wall as she denied joining German forces
Both of my grandmothers knew what it was like to fight against oppression. Their lives influenced my love for people no matter their politics, financial status, or ethnicity.
What led you to write this story specifically?
My passion is to encourage people to achieve their dreams and never give up. I always knew in my heart there was a story for me to tell; I just didn’t know what that story would be. I had mind-mapped out a book about purpose before I published Half Breed and believed that was supposed to be my first (and only) book. But I now see that walking out and publishing Half Breed was part of my purpose, and I had to do that before I could tell others how to find theirs.
What inspired you to become a writer?
In 2018, I was praying about my word and purpose for the year as I do every January. I clearly heard that I was to write a book. What about? I had no idea. I just felt I was to research the Samaritan people, which is a bi-racial ethnicity of people in the Middle East. By the time I was done researching their history, it was clear to me what I was writing about—uniting a broken racial, social and political divide. Clearly, a familiar place our country, too, was experiencing and the very DNA I had walked through since my birth.
Honestly, I did not consider myself a writer even after I published Half Breed. I saw it as an assignment that I was called to complete. The funny thing is I published it in October 2019 and for Christmas later that December, my sister gifted me with a pillow that spelled “WRITER” on it in gold letters. She gave me a card sharing that I was an author and spoke to the many books that I would write. I think seeing the word “writer” hit me deep and unexpectedly. I hadn’t considered myself a writer since I had only written ONE book, and to me, it was just an assignment I felt called to accomplish for this specific time.
What have been the most memorable responses to Half Breed?
There are beautiful stories of people who are now best friends living life together and teaching one another about their culture and community. There are living room conversations taking place allowing people to lower their defenses and create empathy for others. People are taking ownership of their own biases, asking for forgiveness and understanding, and building bridges where no path previously existed.
Why was it important to write this book at the time you did?
Timing was God-appointed. Truly. I had a great launch initially and sold hundreds of books overnight. I was starting to get booked for conferences and speaking engagements into late spring 2020. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and everything began shutting down. People weren’t buying books or talking about racial issues. Every conference was canceled one by one. It seemed as if the launch was a total failure.
Then May 2020 struck and racial division rose to the top of every media output, and my phone started to ring. It was as if the book was written for such a time as this and doors were swinging wide open in every gateway of influence to have these conversations ever since. The book could not have been written at a more perfect time.
What do you hope people come away with after reading your book?
People are the most important resource we have, and we cannot allow a divided mind or heart to prevent us from being in a relationship. While people can make life hard, they can also heal us and help us find purpose. We need each other. It takes compassion and forgiveness to make relationships work, and it’s important to understand the life experiences of others and how your story can impact theirs.
Do you have any advice for others in search of healing or reconciliation?
Share your life experiences, not your opinions. No one can judge your experience. It is not right or wrong—it just is. Take time to understand others’ life experiences, too. You will find you identify with someone else’s pain. You may not have the same wounds (racism, divorce, financial strife, etc.) but you can probably empathize with the same pains (rejection, abandonment, security, etc.). When we empathize with others, we see their humanity, and what matters to them, matters to us. This creates a bridge between people with different cultures or backgrounds.
How else are you working to spread these important messages?
I speak at conferences, corporations, and churches as well as on podcasts. I’ve hosted living room conversations (small groups), as well as movie events (host movies with post-scene conversations). I also work with a non-profit organization that focuses on healing unity and reconciliation, called Threaded.
Because I am bi-racial, half white and half Black, it has given me the grace to speak to both white and Black audiences, with ears and hearts to hear the message of unity and to be challenged where blind spots exist. It has been the most incredible experience and clearly a God-given assignment.
Is there a piece of wisdom or scripture you always carry with you?
John 17:23…that they may be perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. There is something to be said about people who can forgive and unconditionally love another imperfect human being. When that happens, it can only shine like the love God intended to show the world that He truly loves them.
Join us for our live virtual Book Chat with LeTesha next Wednesday, September 28 at 7:00 pm CT / 8:00 pm ET to learn how to bring wholeness to a world split over race, creed, money, and politics. Click here to register for this FREE event.
The Future of Connection for Women