NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Middle Tennessee native is on a journey to revive the lost art of etiquette.
When she’s not being the records coordinator at the Nashville Fire Department’s Headquarters, Malika Williams works to help children learn “manners matter most.”
“I also support four of the Deputy District chiefs here so they keep me kind of busy. But on the other side, I own a company called ‘Excuse me, Please Etiquette,'” she said. “It’s definitely a passion.”
It’s how the Lebanon native passes on the etiquette skills her mother taught her were just good manners.
“I learned from conversations from my mother that my grandmother would teach them, and she didn’t read an Emily Post book or anything, but she learned also from watching vicariously through a family’s home that she used to clean, and she would just watch them and then she would come back home and instill those same skill sets in my mom,” Williams shared.
While seemingly simple, she explained how the impacts were significant even as a child.
“The teachers would choose me for opportunities, and they would say, you’re so well mannered, come along with us, we’re gonna go here, or you could be in this school play, or you can be a teacher’s assistant,” Williams recalled. “So it was around maybe six or seven where it began to click, and I realized that those good manners – please and thank you, yes, ma’am, no ma’am, things like that – were opening up doors for me.”
Doors she wants other children to access, too, saying dinnertime during the holidays was a great place to start learning.
“Have the kids set the table, that’s a great opportunity to teach them like ‘Grandma’s gonna sit here so let’s make sure her knife and fork are right,'” she explained.
Under her pen name Malika Saban she wrote a book called “Time to Eat; A First Look at Table Manners.” She wrote the first draft in the early two thousand but didn’t pursue it until a push from her now late husband Danny.
“To me, manners, etiquette, social skills, social graces is a lost art. It really is. And that’s kind of what breaks my heart and fuels my passion at the same time,” she said.
It’s a passion she hopes can start children on the right foot towards lifelong success, using good manners to bring the self-confidence that can break down barriers.
“Kids are like sponges, they soak up everything good and bad,” Williams said. “Sometimes we’re stereotyped, were put in these boxes. And you know, if we just don’t say anything, and then just are silent, then we just kind of get looked over. But it’s time for us to take our seat at the table, no matter what race you are. It’s time.”
Williams says Shelby County Schools, where Memphis is located, recently purchased 1,200 copies of her book and plan to buy them for all their pre-k students. Click here for more information about her efforts.