How do you describe yourself as a writer? As a person?
As a person, I would say I am ambitious and motivated. I love spending time with my friends and family. I like to make people laugh, and I am usually pretty level headed. I also love spending time alone. I need space to let my thoughts grow. I would say I am pretty in-tune with myself spiritually and I think that is reflected in my writing.
As a writer, I like to test boundaries and play with language. Writing is mostly a hobby of mine; I am not afraid to write something ‘bad’ because I can always write something else. I try not to get caught up on starting and finishing a piece in the same day, or finishing at all. I sort of just let the words flow, and when they run dry I am fine with that too.
Tell me about your goals and dreams as a writer.
I dream of one day publishing a book of my poems, but mostly I just want to keep growing in my craft. I want to be able to always enjoy writing and use it as a soothing mechanism for myself and others.
Who inspires you?
I would say my brother. He inspires me to be strong and fearless. He is the epitome of a great brother and father.
What are the steps in your writing process?
Well I always keep a pen and paper with me, so I can write whenever I feel like I have something to say. I am a pretty quiet person so sometimes I will just write down the things I wish I would have said aloud. That is how most of my poems come to be, especially when I am stressed out.
But If I intend on sitting down to write a piece I will light a candle, meditate for a little bit, then I will find my favorite pen and start writing. I keep a thesaurus on me all the time too, I love finding new words to mess with.
What are your goals in writing “We’ll be okay, Mom”?
Honestly, my goal in writing this piece was to put my thoughts on paper. I wanted to be able to verbalize the words I have felt were truth for so long. It was important to me, to highlight the complexity of multiracial families, and the hardships both races experience.
Has your mom read “We’ll be okay, Mom”? If so, what are her thoughts? If not, do you have plans to share it with her? I’m also interested in what brother thinks of your poem.
I have shared the poem with both my mom and brother. My mom cried when she read the poem. I was raised in a predominately white family, with minimal interaction with my African American side. My mom does not look at my brother and I and think about our skin color. We are just her babies. She is aware that racism and discrimination is alive and well, but I think it still stings when she is reminded that not every environment is as loving as the little bubble offered in our home. It is rough for her to see things in the media, especially young black men getting murdered and people often showing little sympathy for the victims and families. That is a real fear for her, and it is something that most of her peers cannot relate to.
My brother feels similarly to me. I think for him, as an African American male, he is stereotyped even more so than myself. He understands the struggle, but he is very strong. I think he is proud that I can put our reality into words. I fight with my pen and he fights back by defying all stereotypes through kindness and selflessness.
Would you like to say anything to reviewers and readers who do not share the bi/multiracial experience?
I would say that being unaware and ‘colorblind’ only perpetuates ignorance. Only people with privilege have the opportunity of being colorblind. We should recognize cultural difference, and not only recognize it but celebrate it. Introduce yourself to someone you do not know, engage in open discourse about race and diversity. Read books written by non-white authors, watch movies with full ethnic casts, expose yourself to variety. If you sit in a corner of comfort your whole life you cannot fight injustice let alone voice an opinion on it, solely because you are ignorant the fact it exists. That saddens me. It is 2017, it is unacceptable to continue to allow things as miniscule as race distract us from far more important issues.
Something crazy that has happened to you
I had the opportunity to hike in the South of France last summer. It was one of the toughest, most exhilarating hikes of my life.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on graduating mostly. In regards to writing, I have been spending more time listening and reading other writers’ work. I am still trying to figure out my own voice and style.
Most influential class you’ve ever taken?
The most influential class I have taken in college was a case study while I was studying abroad. I was able to visit the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. It was so eye opening, and it gave me a new perspective on life and humanity.
What book(s) do you think Scribendi readers should put at the top of their to-read lists?
White Oleander – Jane Fitch
Milk and Honey- Rupi Kaur
On the Road- Jack Kerouac
Grace- Natashia Déon