I am a journalist and editorial consultant who currently leads creative web content at Barnard College. As a journalist for two decades, I have worked with more than a dozen national media companies and publications, including Colorlines, MTV, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Real Simple, Essence, VIBE, The Source, and The Village Voice. I served as a research editor for InStyle and as the show writer for BET’s 106 & Park, where my script highlighting World Aids Day won a National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences TV Cares Ribbon. I’ve also taught English as a second language in Japan.
My debut book, THE COMMUNITY, publishes June 1, 2022.
A Brooklyn native, I earned my undergraduate in English literature from the City College of New York, my master’s at teaching degree from the University of Southern California, and an MFA from the Writer's Foundry at St. Joseph's College in New York. I am currently working on a memoir.
In 1978, when Jamiyla was two years old, her mother, Ummi, quit her job, converted to Islam with her husband, and moved into an exclusive Muslim society in Brooklyn. Once inside the Community, the family was separated by its powerful and charismatic leader, Dwight York, who was hiding behind the name Imam Isa. Instead of the devotional refuge they’d imagined, the Community was a nightmare of controlled abuse and unspeakable secrets.
Forty years later, Jamiyla was ready to excavate and understand a past buried in bad dreams, disturbing memories, and inexplicable rage. It was a place Ummi never wanted to return to. Jamiyla had to.
Jamiyla’s emotional memoir tells her family’s story of life inside and outside the cult, and of escaping into new challenges as conservative Muslims in the secular Brooklyn they left behind. A harrowing and deeply personal history fraught with racial tension and devastating personal betrayals, The Community is also a hopeful story brimming with Black pride, justice, and the long-overdue healing between a daughter and mother.