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Indybay Feature

D Watkins: The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America

Tuesday, September 22, 2015
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison St
Oakland, CA 94612

Very recently Watkins's "Too Poor for Pop Culture" essay went viral almost immediately after it appeared on the website Salon. It's a vivid meditation about how little pop culture matters to the people who live paycheck to paycheck. Two more essays followed-"How Glamorizing Drugs Is Killing Black Kids" and "Poor Black People Don't Work? Lessons of a Former Dope Dealer." Thousands eagerly shared and tweeted them. He has since been a frequent guest on NPR and been published in The Huffington Post, Aeon, Vice and Salon.

In short, Watkins is writing a perennial American dream narrative, an intimate saga of overcoming adversity. And he's doing it after that dream has long since vanished, when the American narrative for most people isn't a triumph over adversity but a steady struggle to simply get by. And he's doing it as somebody straddling two worlds. He's writing about the underemployed, the undereducated, the people who only appear in the newspaper in crime blotters or homicide reports.

Watkins is still fighting his way out of where he came from. What sets his writing apart is his own fierce contemporary class consciousness, coming from the perspective of somebody who didn't just come from little. He's still there. Growing up in East Baltimore (where The Wire was made), when his brother's drug selling got him killed, D. Watkins took on the work, and put himself through Johns Hopkins University while dealing. What makes Watkins' story sting is that it's a story of a member of the underclass wanting to be recognized as human.

Presented by KPFA Radio 94.1FM and Marcus Books

Hosted by Greg Bridges, a radio dj and journalist living in Oakland. He can be heard over KCSM 91.1fm ( Tuesday nights 6 to 9 pm, and Thursday nights 6 pm to 2 am, on KPFA (94.1fm) Monday nights 8 to 10 pm.

$12 advance tickets: 800-838-3006 or independent bookstores, $15 door, KPFA benefit poster:
Added to the calendar on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 12:39PM
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