Saint-Louis activist shares heartbreaking experiences in poetry book

“I use my transparency to invite other people into a space where they can feel comfortable sharing their truth and honesty.”

ST. LOUIS – Transparency in sharing everything she’s been through in her 38 years comes naturally to published author, poet and community activist Tracy “T-Spirit” Stanton.

The average person would most likely be ashamed or afraid to speak openly about their past if the story included dysfunctional family ties, drug addiction, prostitution, and incarceration.

Her childhood trauma began when she was seven when she saw her brother’s lifeless body on the bathroom floor after being electrocuted. He had slipped out of the tub and landed on a washing machine.

Her unexpected passing brought sadness to her heartbroken family, her mother in particular. She suffered a nervous breakdown after the tragedy.

Her mental state caused a split in what had been normal family dynamics. The family broke up. Stanton’s brother moved in with their father, who was addicted to crack cocaine. She stayed with her mother. While they were with her mother, they struggled to find a stable living environment.

They faced homelessness, displacement from house to house and the indignity of being evicted from their places of residence.

Amid the turmoil, Stanton’s mother gave birth to another daughter. Stanton became her little sister’s guardian, even though she was a child herself.

Finally, they moved into a family and social accommodation center. Stanton believed that her mother’s mental state was intact since she received the help and treatment.

It was all an illusion. One day, staff told her that she had to move in with her father and that her sister would be put up for adoption.

After that day, she never saw her mother again. When she was 10, she learned that her mother had died of lung cancer.

Stanton was enrolled in a gifted program at school while living with her father, who was still addicted to crack cocaine. His neighborhood was plagued by heavy drug and alcohol use.

Unfortunately, she did not have a positive role model or voice of reason to help her cultivate her academic gifts and talent. Soon after, an aunt stepped in to help raise Stanton, but by that time she was smoking marijuana, drinking, and having sex at age 12.

Stanton and his aunt eventually settled in northern St. Louis County. She graduated from McCluer High School a year earlier, attended Lincoln University for a semester, and was expelled for fighting.

Not only did she still use drugs, but she started selling drugs and objecting to prostitution, which led to her incarceration.

In 2017, she returned from prison and made the necessary changes she needed to improve and has been on a clean slate ever since.

With the help of various community organizations and a 12-step program, Stanton has maintained a high level of sobriety. Her life-changing journey has catapulted into opportunities that allow her to help others by telling her story and helping those formerly incarcerated.

“When I got home from prison in 2017, I was introduced to myself without resorting to any outsourcing that made me disagree with reality,” Stanton said. “I have been able to heal and process all of these layers of trauma that I have been through since I was 12 years old.”

Rather than dwelling on these experiences, Stanton shamelessly shares his truth in his book “Some Things Must Be Heard,” which encompasses vulnerable, honest, and empowering poems about his past, present, and future. Along with the book, readers can also scan a QR code that allows them to listen to a playlist of her reciting her most memorable songs.

“I use my transparency to invite other people into a space where they can feel comfortable sharing their truth and honesty,” Stanton said.

“The more I made my pain look, the less power he had over me as I came home and went through my recovery and transformation process.”

Stanton said her book received a lot of positive reviews, not least because she was so open about her past. While other people’s experiences may be different from her own, she always encourages everyone to feel confident and comfortable enough to tell her story.

“If I can have compassion on myself, give myself a break and not be so hard on myself, then I can finally look at the next individual and be able to project that same kind of grace. Stanton said.

Stanton’s book is available for purchase at

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