Dabriel Fulton is kind of a big deal. She’s spent time in the studio with Rick Ross and LL Cool J. She’s planned events for Fabolous and Elle Varner. She’s been on Elle Magazine’s “Rap Therapy” with French Montana. She’s taken the stage for speaking engagements at WeWork and career conferences in New York City, inspiring a plethora of young women to make things happen for themselves whatever that “thing” might be.
And, now? Well, now she’s the Founder of a New York City showcase of talent called The Mic is Open. True to its name, The Mic is Open is a chance for her to bring audiences the top underground poets, singers, rappers, and comedians all in one show. The self-described loyal, charismatic, and driven Fulton, whose friends and family would call hilarious, generous, and high-maintenance, she says, grew up in Baltimore Maryland and attended Towson Catholic High School. She actually was working on her Bachelor’s degree at Marymount Manhattan College when she founded The Mic Is Open.
How she got where she is quite a ride, although not surprising considering her passion and grit. Her secret? It’s one she’s more than willing to share, and her path to success reveals it all.
Photo Courtesy of Upcoming HipHop
1. How would you describe yourself as a kid?
As a child, I was fearless! I had a lot of friends, was popular but nice to everyone. I was also a hustler. My mom would go to Sam’s Club and she would purchase whatever candy I wanted because I would sell candy to the kids at school. A hustler from the beginning.
2. Have you always been a writer and performer in one way or another?
I’ve always been an entertainer and a writer. Poetry is a way of performance. I can entertain people with my writing in that way. I would say I’m definitely a writer first.
3. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a pediatrician. My doctor was so sweet and understanding. She made me want to help others. I also wanted to become a teacher. We all had that one teacher who made you want to save the world by teaching others.
4. How would you describe your career path?
I’d describe my career path as unpredictable to say the least! It’s been exciting and rewarding...but it has also been challenging. I’m a hard worker and I’ve seen that when I work hard at one thing, another opportunity or interest pops up. Then I do that. Then I do the next thing.
I’m definitely a jack of all trades. From running my own event business, to giving motivational talks, to founding The Mic Is Open, and performing my own work as an artist, it’s all come together just by following my curiosity and being kind to people. That’s key. The people I’ve met along the way have introduced me to new ventures and ideas. Being a people person allows that to happen in those seemingly random ways.
Photo Courtesy of Upcoming HipHop
5. How was “The Mic is Open” born?
I was hosting poetry showcases at my college and it blew up—people outside in line weren’t allowed in because we’d reach capacity. Then a poetry club offered me a weekly gig as the host. They gave me a horrible deal: 80/20. But I was young and just happy to be hosting and bringing people together. I was happy to have people come to my showcases.
But I knew I could create something on my own. The Mic Is Open was born because, truthfully, I just wanted to create a platform for people like me—artists, poets, musicians—to be able to come together in unity and express themselves. I’m more of a writer so when I perform, I’m vulnerable. You have to be comfortable at some point with either yourself or the crowd to continue on. I always make sure that The Mic Is Open is somewhere anyone could feel comfortable with being vulnerable.
6. How would you describe the experience of watching the first “The Mic is Open” happen?
For me, it was like giving birth to something I worked really hard for, for months and months. Seeing it come to fruition, it was exciting, rewarding. For a lot of our talent, it was their first time performing ever. I was just so grateful they trusted me to help showcase their talents.
7. What inspires you to make helping others part of your platform?
A lot of people do not have an outlet. I believe it’s my calling to help as many people as I can. Someone once asked me, “What’s your job?” “I make dreams come true. How about you?” I said with a laugh.
But seriously, I’m someone who has really bad stage fright. For a lot of people like me, performing your work feels like taking off all your clothes and just baring yourself. But when I started performing for the first time, seeing how receptive the audience was, I began to open up. Seeing talented artists with stage fright open up on stage is so awesome to watch.
That inspires me. Seeing people conquer their fears and allowing their work to be seen and heard is amazing. When you let that light out, you just want to go out and share it with everybody. Helping others share their light has this like a super positive chain reaction in the world.
8. What specific challenges do you feel like you’ve faced because you are a woman?
I’ve been truly blessed to work in spaces surrounded by awesome people who support me. As an entrepreneur, I choose who I want to work with and keep it moving. The people I’ve encountered, thankfully, know my capabilities and treat me as a peer. That’s how it’s supposed to be in the industry.
9. What specific challenges do you believe you have faced because you are a black woman?
Honestly, we all know the challenges black people face in this country and in my industry. This is why The Mic Is Open is so important to me. It’s open to everybody. Every single person has a voice and my job is to pass that mic to them literally and figuratively. We’ve created our own spaces when we weren’t seen. The Mic Is Open will continue to be a safe space for people of all races, backgrounds, religions, sexualities, gender identities, etc., because I seek to push beyond the noise. I’ll utilize the platform I have to lift up others around me.
10. Right now, black woman are FINALLY being recognized for the myriad of contributions they have made in every arena. Why do you think that is finally happening?
Black women are finally being recognized by the mainstream. As a people, we have always recognized each other within our communities. So, it’s about time mainstream media is starting to recognize us as well.
I don’t know why people are just now hopping on the bandwagon. I try to see the positive in every situation, so with that being said, I’ll say “Better late than never.” There’s a lot of unlearning to be done when it comes to race in this country.
11. Is this how you imagined your life?
For the most part, yes! I’m happy; I’m healthy; I’m loved; I’m loving others; I’m healing: and I’m helping others heal in the process. I’m changing lives. I’m putting in the work. This is all I ever wanted from life, to shine a light on those who wish to be seen.
12. What are your hopes for the future?
Personally, I’d like to get married to the love of my life and have children. For now, though, I am single and focused on securing an amazing future. My goal is for The Mic Is Open to become international and put on TV’s around the world! My intention through all of this is the same, to motivate artists to be the best they can be by sharing my gifts and knowledge in this industry.
13. What advice would you give to other women – and specially women of color - in terms of turning their dreams into their realities?
I’d say, be true to yourself. Never compromise. There’s a lot of pressure to become someone you’re not. But trust your gut, always. Also, I’d say, always support other women. We need to show up for each other and create that community. There’s room for everybody!
For more information on upcoming events go to The Mic Is Open website.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."