We Speak For Ourselves
A Word From Forgotten Black America
By: D. Watkins
April 15, 2019
Personal Essay by : BobbiRush
Speaking For Ourselves. Rediscovering Our Power.
The more I walk through Baltimore, I understand that forgotten Black America isn’t just poor black people. It’s not just black people who don’t have access to the best education, fair opportunities to work or survive. Forgotten black America is also the abandoned homes that we are surrounded by. Beautiful empty spaces that we can’t fill. It’s the addicts on the corner, who are or could be our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, barely standing but never falling. Everything around us, that we’re told is ours, is dilapidated, burned down, vacant or being renovated and filled with white people or other. Not us, folks who look like, feel like or care about us.
These unfilled spaces serve as reminders to keep us down and discouraged. Everything around us starts to feel like nothing, like there’s no hope or growth. The mind believes what it sees and becomes the person. Our neighborhoods have become nowhere for us to go.
D. Watkins will release a book titled, ‘We Speak For Ourselves. A Word From Forgotten Black America’. He shines light on the useless and gives it meaning with facts of our history. He speaks about our resilience and also our disadvantages in this corrupt, white system. ‘The Tradition Of Failure’ – Chapter 4 page 34. “Blacks have been in America since 1619 and received virtually no schooling until after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. That is a 244 year head start given to whites–244 years of exposure to scientific thought, hundreds of years to discover the power of books and reading and shape dreams into reality”. We still have not recovered from what has taken place within that 244 year head start. Will we ever? My brain and my heart immediately opened up with this new knowledge about myself, my folks.
Today, D. Watkins has my attention.
I instantly wanted to do more. I kept on reading the book. Prior to this, I’d only listened to the voices of black women writers. I wondered why people liked D. Watkins, or held space for what he had to say. I found that its not just what he says, but how he says it that really grabs you. He’s funny, honest, smart mouthed, but serious and very intelligent. He’s every Baltimore child. Which is why so many students cling to him.
We see ourselves when we read his words, and we aren’t bored when he teaches us history through his writing. We are interested, eager and want to do more for ourselves and the people that we love.
‘Be The Person You Needed growing Up’ – Chapter 13 page 157. “The Coldest Winter Ever opened up my mind and led me to consume more and more books. My thoughts changed. I developed new ideas. I was forever transformed. Within months I went from being a guy who solved problems by breaking a bottle over someone’s forehead to using solution-based thinking when resolving issues. It was as if reading instantly civilized me. It also made me acknowledge the need for culturally relevant material. Familiar information is less intimidating. And if it worked for me, I believe it can work for anybody”.
What I love most about this book is that D. Watkins honors the power of reading, and the power of the mind. All it takes is the right book and you’ve set a fire in the hearts of so many. This is why schools and students can’t get enough of his books, his voice. ‘We Speak For Ourselves”, I must admit is my first D. Watkins reading. I was fortunate enough to shadow and interview him before reading the book, which made me even more excited to get into it. D. Watkins sees potential in us all. Students, writers, aspiring creators, he supports us. Whether it be book suggestions or dropping knowledge during a conversation, he’s helpful.
This book We Speak For Ourselves is broken into four parts and holds 15 chapters. Its about people who are no longer taking whats given. D. Watkins sees us, says yes we can have it and shows us how. He shows us ourselves. We’re positioning ourselves to have it, by creating it through the power of our minds. Speaking for ourselves takes encouragement, nerve, real knowledge and gut. This book speaks to the heart of gut, the heart of nerve and the heart of knowledge which is the mind.
Much love to D. Watkins for his time.
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