D. Watkins is Editor-at-Large for Salon. His work has been published in the New York Times, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and other publications. He holds a Master’s in Education from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Baltimore.
He is a college professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the BMORE Writers Project–– and has also been the recipient of numerous awards including BMe Genius Grant and Ford’s Men of Courage. Watkins was also a finalist for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award and Books for A Better Life. He has lectured at countless universities, and events, around the world. Watkins has been featured as a guest and commentator on NBC’s Meet the Press, CNN’s The Erin Burnett Show, and Democracy Now, among other shows.
Watkins is from and lives in East Baltimore. He is the author of We Speak For Ourselves: A Word from Forgotten Black America and the New York Times bestsellers The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America and The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir.
From the row houses of Baltimore to the stoops of Brooklyn, with searing conviction and full compassion, D. Watkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Cook Up and The Beast Side, lays bare the voices of the most vulnerable and allows their raw, intimate stories to uncover the systematic injustice threaded within our society. Honest and eye-opening, We Speak for Ourselves makes us listen, feel, and create a course toward change that starts right where we are.
Watkins introduces you to Down Bottom, the storied community of East Baltimore that holds a mirror to America’s poor black neighborhoods—“hoods” that could just as easily be in Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, or Atlanta. As Watkins sees it, the perspective of people who live in economically disadvantaged black communities is largely absent from the commentary of many top intellectuals who speak and write about race.
Unapologetic and sharp-witted, D. Watkins is here to tell the truth as he has seen it. We Speak for Ourselves offers an in-depth analysis of inner-city hurdles and honors the stories therein. We sit in underfunded schools, walk the blocks burdened with police corruption, stand within an audience of Make America Great Again hats, journey from trap house to university lecture, and rally in neglected streets. And we listen.
Watkins shares the lessons he has learned while navigating through two very distinct worlds—the hood and the elite sanctums of prominent black thinkers and public figures—serving hope to fellow Americans who are too often ignored and calling on others to examine what it means to be a model activist in today’s world. We Speak for Ourselves is a must-read for all who are committed to social change.
“Watkins anchors his new collection of essays in the voices, language, everyday realities, and dreams of black citizens... offer[ing] deep critiques of the elitism and respectability that directly and indirectly censor voices. A strong offering that brings nuance and multiplicity to readers attempting to decipher the black male urban experience while uplifting the stories, visions, and love that incubated a rising star.”-- Kirkus Reviews
“Reading We Speak for Ourselves, I can’t help but admire D Watkins. He is not another elite voice for the voiceless. He is, this book is, an amplifier of low-income Black voices who have their own voices and have no problem using them. He dares us to listen.”-- Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
“Over and over again, I found myself saying ‘yes, yes, he’s right’ and ultimately finished feeling inspired to do better, to be more. D Watkins proves, once again, why he isn’t just a writer of the people but a people’s literary champ for the here, now, and tomorrow.”-- Mitchell S. Jackson, author of Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family
Copies of We Speak for Ourselves will be given to the first 50 attendees!