Unprotected: A Memoir

Unprotected: A Memoir

by Rae Lewis Thornton
Unprotected: A Memoir

Unprotected: A Memoir

by Rae Lewis Thornton


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Unprotected: A Memoir is Rae Lewis Thornton's captivating story of what happened to her as a child and how it shaped the trajectory of her life. This story begins on the South Side of Chicago at the age of six with the death of her paternal grandfather-her caregiver and protector ‒ after which, darkness descends over her life like the sky before a storm. Born to drug-addicted, interracial parents in the sixties, Rae's father is dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Her mother is somewhere lost to drugs, and her maternal grandmother doesn't want her. She is left to be raised by her grandfather's third wife, the woman she calls "Mama." In Mama's care, Rae's life is charged with rejection, violence, and childhood sexual molestation.

Rae situates her story within the research on childhood trauma. That is, high doses of trauma cause a deregulation of the stress response system. This disruption of normal cortisol patterns during a child's developmental stages can change the biology of a child's brain and body, causing a short attention span, hyperactivity, learning disabilities and also lead to poor social and medical outcomes through adulthood. Rae's story fits squarely into the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study, published in 1998 by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control, which demonstrates the connection between childhood abuse and household dysfunction to leading causes of death and dysfunction in adults. Deregulation becomes Rae's reality, and she gives you a front-row seat to Little Rae as she treads through a world of abuse, where her abnormal environment becomes her normal existence.

Homeless at the age of seventeen, Rae never gives up on herself. She believes that her pain situates her to help understand the suffering of others and commits her life to social justice at the age of nineteen. By the age of twenty-four, she is diagnosed with HIV. Rae chronicles her journey from HIV to AIDS and situates her life in the dichotomy between the early days of the AIDS pandemic and as a major force and political organizer for notable giants in politics. Her diagnosis of HIV is shrouded in secrecy and shame as she navigates dating, disclosure, and the first generation of antiretroviral drugs.

After years of keeping "the secret," Rae turns her mess into a message and tragedy into activism. She becomes the face of AIDS for Black women in America with her groundbreaking Essence magazine cover story in the December 1994 issue. Today, nearly three decades after Essence and almost forty years of living with HIV, Rae tells all-the trauma that shaped her life, and how she survived the odds and continued to soar with a broken wing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781737891208
Publisher: Rae Lewis-Thornton
Publication date: 05/18/2022
Pages: 454
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award winning AIDS activist and renown social justice advo-cate. Rae received national acclaim for her story of living with HIV/AIDS in the Essence magazine December 1994 issue. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Cul-ture has requested to catalogue her groundbreaking Essence magazine cover. As the face of HIV/AIDS, she has been featured in Glamour, O The Oprah Magazine, Woman's Day, Essence, Jet, Ebony, Emerge, Heart and Soul, The Washington Post, and The Chicago Trib-une. Rae appeared on television and streaming shows including, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Night-line, Dateline, BET, CNN, Vice News, HLN News, Huffington Post Live, and TV One.She is an ordained minister, award-winning blogger, author, and a tea connoisseur with a hand-made knitting and jewelry accessory line, RLT Collection. Rae received an Emmy Award for her television series, Living with AIDS, a first-person chronicle on WBBM, CBS in Chicago.Rae earned a Master of Divinity Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary. She received a distinguished alumnae award from Northeastern Illinois University, and the Scroll of Merit Award from the National Medical Association. She has written two other books, Amazing Grace: Letters Along My Journey and The Politics of Respectability.
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