This post was originally published on Atlanta Voice
By Craig Allen Brown
DeBlair Tate has a lengthy list of accomplishments that attests to her determination and ambition.
She currently serves as a senior noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She’s enjoyed success as a fitness competitor, trainer and coach. She also has a successful clothing line, 8figured, that is now expanding into fitness nutrition.
And now, she can add published author to her list of achievements. Tate recently published “Resilient as F*ck,” an autobiographical look into the many obstacles she has overcome in her continuous pursuit of personal and professional excellence.
Tate’s adversities in life are as numerous as her successes, many of which revolved around her childhood in Winona, Mississippi (population of less than 5,000 people).
After a long time of keeping a troubled past under wraps, Tate says she felt inclined to finally share her story.
The inspiration for writing her book came from her fitness clients, who would often share their own woes with Tate to give insight into their own struggles. Tate has always been a private person, so she had not previously shared her life struggles with anyone.
One day, one of her clients asked her,” What is your ‘why?’ What keeps you motivated?”
“I felt like it was time for me to just kinda open up and be vulnerable, and share my story, because I needed to walk in my walk,” Tate said.
One of the first major hurdles Tate had to navigate was the absence of her father from her life, particularly at a time when his presence was needed the most. Her father relocated to Alaska when Tate was a young child. Communication between the two was limited, so a relationship between the two did not materialize until she was much older. For a long time, her father’s absence was a significant source of turmoil in her life.
“I didn’t know how to feel, or why he wasn’t in my life,” Tate said. “There was a lot of resentment, because I felt that I wasn’t wanted. It made me… defensive about a lot of things. As I got older, I started wanting answers. He needed to tell me why he didn’t want me, or why he wasn’t in my life.”
The difficult task of raising Tate fell squarely and solely on her mother’s shoulders. Tate regularly got in trouble, which amplified the difficulties her mother faced in raising her. But struggles within Tate’s household would pale in comparison to difficulties she faced outside of the home.
Although Tate’s hometown of Winona was small, violence and racial disharmony were omnipresent. Tate and her family members often took a retaliatory approach when they were threatened with violence. She and her family were often involved in illegal activities that ultimately resulted in others being hurt. Tate’s actions sometimes resulted in restraining orders being placed against her. She remembers vividly how the violence in the small Mississippi town resulted in the deaths of several close friends and family members.
Racial discrimination was so prevalent in Winona that the local high school had segregated social events, sanctioned by the school. Annually, there was a “white” prom, and a “Black” prom. There was a “Black” homecoming queen, and a “white” homecoming queen. There were “white” class reunions, and “Black” class reunions. These segregated events happened during Tate’s time at the local high school in the early 2000s, and continued as late as the 2010s.
According to Tate, the presence of the Ku Klux Klan in Winona was commonplace. In fact, local business owners and other prominent people in the town often made no attempt to hide their affiliation with the Klan. Tate states that the racism she experienced in her hometown was so prevalent, that she did not understand how racist the town was until she relocated to Atlanta.
Although Winona had its fair share of negativity, Tate says that she did have a positive group of influencers who held her accountable, and attempted to steer her towards a more positive path. This group included family, teachers, mentors and individuals from her church congregation. She said that this group saw potential in her that she did not immediately see in herself.
Tate understood early in life that she wanted to leave Winona as soon as she could, but she wasn’t sure how. She contemplated joining the Air Force, but her protective grandmother wanted her to attend college instead. She eventually enlisted, and to date, has served for more than 22 years.
Tate happened upon a career as a personal trainer unintentionally. As a result of Hurricane Ivan, she left Biloxi, Mississippi and relocated to Atlanta. She was working at a smoothie bar when her personal trainer asked her if she’d ever competed in fitness competitions. She hadn’t, but soon became interested. After competing for some time, Tate earned a fitness certification, and became a certified physical trainer.
Her life would change again when she noticed she was consistently becoming sick in certain environments. Upon consulting her doctor, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder.
“I hid it [initially],” Tate said. “I tried to make it as if it was nonexistent. To me, I was a person that was strong, and I couldn’t believe that something was happening to ME.
“I was embarrassed for a long time. Instead of educating people on what’s going on, I still tried to keep it a secret. And I realized that wasn’t the route to go, because it was causing me to struggle on the inside, having to suffer in silence. So I started opening up about it.”
Despite her illness, Tate still maintained a desire to change people’s lives for the better. Once the time and energy demands of physical training began to be too much for her, she pivoted to fitness fashion, and created her brand: 8figured. 8figured started out as a clothing brand, but has since expanded. The brand now includes health supplements, along with both men’s and women’s clothing. All of the clothing is designed by Tate, and the idea is to create clothes that can be enjoyed by customers of all shapes and sizes.
Tate hopes that those who read her new book will be able to identify with the successes she has had in life, and use her conquests as motivation to conquer their own goals.
“After reading my book, you should be empowered,” Tate said. “Nothing should be able to stop you. You can do whatever you want to do.”
You can follow DeBlair Tate on Instagram @iamdeblair, or you can view her website at 8figured.com.
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