"UNarmed But Dangerous"
The Tawana Williams Story of Relentless
Struggle and Ultimate Victory
FOREWORD BY LES BROWN
In “UNarmed But Dangerous,” Tawana Williams tells her poignant and heroic true life story of being born without arms, surviving the trauma of gang rape, being raped by her step father, abortion, the miraculous birth of her daughter, drug addiction and marrying her childhood sweetheart “Toby!” Today, Tawana speaks to people across the country, encouraging them to look beyond their circumstances and to accept God’s gift of freedom without limitations.
Part 1: The Presidential Challenge
The book begins by telling the compelling story of how Tawana’s mother, a young black woman in 1963, experienced fainting and nausea so severe that her doctor prescribed the drug Thalidomide. Not realizing the side effects or what impact this drug would have on her unborn child, she took the Thalidomide. The drug, which decreased her fainting and nausea, would cause damage far beyond her understanding.
When her daughter was born, the doctor would not allow her to see her new born baby. Instead, he instructed the nurse to "keep her sedated.” For three days following her child’s birth, she was not allowed to see her. Once she did, to her horror, she saw not only that her child did not have arms but that her legs were also impaired. Her life would now take on a new challenge, the challenge of rearing a severely, physically handicapped, black child in the early 1960’s. With the help of her mother, Tawana’s grandmother, this young mother learned how to care for her child and coped as best as she could. After many attempts to receive assistance from the Department of Human Services, in desperation she sat down and wrote a letter to then-President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. What happened as a result of that letter amazed the young mother. President Kennedy’s office wrote instructing her where to go for help for her challenged child. They also contacted the same Human Services office that had refused to assist her.
Part 2: Identity Crisis
As a result of the President’s intervention, Tawana, at eleven months old, was taken to the Duke Cerebral Palsy Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. At the time, no other Black children were there because this was a White institution.
While there, Tawana experienced an identity crisis. Since she had seen mostly Whites, she began to believe, in her young mind, that she too was White. This was evident when the hospital staff ordered her first prostheses, White arms as no Black ones were yet available. Tawana wore them proudly. When the staff ordered her Black arms, she refused to wear them because she thought they did not look like her. The hospital staff realized that she needed to see her family and requested that they visit more regularly. She soon wore the Black arms but never liked them.
Part 3: The Homecoming
When Tawana at the age of four returned to live with her family for the first time since she was a baby, the children of the neighborhood met and greeted her. Her sisters and mother had told them about Tawana’s physical condition but that did not prepare them.
When one of the children confronted her about her missing arms, she returned the taunt and made everyone laugh, including the other child. Her strength and sense of humor would prove to be a gift since she would soon be tested as she re-entered the world of people with two arms.
Part 4: The Acceptance Factor
Because of her physical limitations, Tawana had a great need to be accepted. This need would soon prove to be one of her greatest liabilities. It drove her to seek friendships at any costs. Although she was an outstanding student, her grades soon slipped in an effort to gain the other students’ acceptance.
With good grades no longer a barrier, she connected with the drug culture. She smoked marijuana and before she realized what was happening, she became addicted to crack cocaine. This began the downward spiral that would last more than ten years.
Part 5: The Return to Reason
Tawana is now on track for her God-given purpose, letting others know they have “No More Excuses” for not doing what God has told them to do. She says “she is still in the metamorphosis phase, being changed and renewed daily.” Although ‘UNarmed, she speaks God’s love with power and helps others know of His forgiveness. She believes everyone is in the midst of the creation process and is like a moth that emerges from its cocoon as a butterfly, changing from glory to glory into God’s image.
“UNarmed But Dangerous” The Book
Foreword By-Les Brown
World Renowned Motivational Speaker and Author and personal friend and mentor to Tawana.
Tawana is the first Black Thalidomide Baby that became a Les Brown Platinum Speaker in 2004!
Have you ever heard someone’s voice and they spoke to the very core of your being? I have!
Have you ever met someone and instantly you knew you were in the presence of greatness? I have!
Have you ever met someone who had so much going against them that you wondered how they were able to survive and then felt ashamed of yourself for living a defeated life? I have! That’s how I felt when I met Tawana.
Born without arms and with a tiny stature of just over 4 ft., she overcame child molestation, poverty, rape, mental and physical abuse, addiction to crack and cocaine amongst other painful tragedies. Using her feet, she learned how to write and draw beautiful works of art, answer the phone, cook and live a normal life. She operates a business, mesmerizes audiences as a motivational speaker and can sing the roof off of a church. In addition to all those things I will venture to say that her greatest joy is being a devoted loving wife to her soul mate and God given companion, Toby. To see them together and the love they express for each other is the greatest example I have ever seen of what love truly is. Toby, a gifted speaker and a servant husband taught me and the men in one of my recent Speaker Training Summits, how to serve and treat a woman with class. We were humbled and felt blessed to learn from his example and in particular to be in their presence to witness their devotion to each other.
There is no question in my mind that Tawana will impact peoples’ lives around the world through her classic book, UNarmed But Dangerous. This warm, inspiring and incredible human spirit does so much with so little, that she challenges all of us to look within and realize how much more life has to offer if only we were willing to commit ourselves to do what is required to live a more significant life.
Tawana’s life example will inspire you to soar to new heights and to accomplish things that will literally amaze you. Although Tawana does not carry a gun or a knife, she is truly unarmed and dangerous because she uses the weapons of her faith in God and her unfailing commitment to serve His calling on her life, as we all should do.
After reading this book your life will never be the same again. “Tawana the world is a better place because you showed up!"
The Tawana Williams Story of Relentless
Struggle and Ultimate Victory
~ Les Brown