Jun 5


1 comment

I experienced so many emotions while reading this book that span from painful and sad to inspired and hopeful. I'm grateful for the unconventional perspective and flat out realness that D Watkins gave us in 'We Speak For Ourselves'


I believe everyone has their own coping mechanisms to the pain that Black people in particular, experience in urban communities. Mine is to numb myself. Yes, I consider myself to be "aware" and sensitive to the things happening in society , but to some degree over the years, I have created a blockage of protection. I have conditioned myself to believe that this is the most supportive way to protect me from the overwhelming pain that would result if I fully acknowledge the conditions that people are faced with on a daily basis. Reading 'We Speak For Ourselves' has, in a way, forced me to acknowledge that numbing me only helps one person and actually, adds to the problem.


Two chapters helped this happen for me and those were Chapter 13 'Be The Person You Needed Growing Up" and Chapter 15 " Don't make it Out Make It Better." I think the titles speak for themselves in regards to the messages they were focused on and because of that I felt vulnerable to all of the emotions D addressed in the book. The emotional roller coaster wasn't necessarily fun but the result left me feeling connected, enlightened, and intentionally sensitive to things I was refusing to acknowledge before.


Ultimately, I agree. We absolutely speak for ourselves but D's words in the pages of this book undoubtedly raised the volume on some voices that I had tuned out for a while and grateful is the best way to describe my emotions for that.

I heard D speak at his book release and "Don't Make it out, make it better" stuck with me then as well. I accidentally "got stuck" here in Baltimore. I had all the intentions to move after college to follow a similar dream, but different path. Once I got back to Baltimore and started this journey, I realized that I was meant to be here, working with the next generation, making it better. Or at least doing the best that I can to make it better.

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  • I loved what D said when he discussed his appearance at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival in Fort Myers with Taya Kyle. Although the whole not ordering his books thing pissed me off! D said, "Suddenly her audience became my audience too because our stories were bigger than color, political endorsements, and ideologies. We were identifying those universal truths that connect us all.....'But at the core, I think we all want the same things, like happiness, success, love, and the ability to make our families proud. It's that simple." This is important to recognize.
  • "If you care and want to do something like that woman from Seattle who asked how she could help, please share a skill and be a mentor to someone." I needed to be reading this book, it was right on time. Recently I've been feeling like I'm not doing enough, because there's always so much more to be done. I dedicate my life to the youth, aiding the next generation in becoming their best selves through the art of dance. I've always been known as the acerbic, no none sense, militant one. I was that black girl in a predominantly white high school, I was at every damn march, I called people out on their foolishness without hesitation. However, in the more recent years, I realized that it takes so much more, I don't remember which march it was, but at the end I didn't feel full, I didn't feel like we had made any change, we stopped traffic yes, we taught a few people yes, but where was the change. After that, I knew my focus had to be my students. So I took a different approach, we would study literature, we would study the news (which I always hate because I'm what you call an empath), we would create pieces that were in direct alignment with what's going on and bring awareness. I started bringing my students with me to allow them new opportunities and experiences. I recognize my privilege, and vow to take everything I've been afforded over the years and pass it on. I took 3 of my students to D.Watkins book release and they loved it! They've seen professional dance recitals and concerts. They've met the artists we've studied. I've stayed in contact with students from years ago trying to make sure they stay on the right track. Yet and still, I always feel like I need to do more. What that more is, I don't know? D's words really resonated with me though, the entire Chapter 13 "Be The Person You Needed Growing Up". Specifically, "Be a mentor and attend events that are important to your mentee, offer positive reinforcement, share your connections, and help them gain access to the tools you didn't have. You have to be the person you needed growing up." I was reassured that I am doing enough, it's not the end, but being a mentor can change the trajectory of someone's life and make for a better tomorrow.



P.O. Box 802

Randallstown, MD 21133

(410) 204-4838



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