Presenting My Book – “How Do You See Me?”

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livinglesh book about african american identity

Today is a super special day and that’s because my eBook “How Do You See Me?” has officially launched! It’s crazy to think that I now have a book of African American poetry that I can share with you all – especially a book that is super personal and shares stories of my heritage, my studies, and the influences around me. I’ve always wanted to publish books, and I have drafted many short stories and started books over the years, but all of them have been some sort of fiction that has nothing to do with anything that relates to me and my life. But this book is so different. So personal. And I’m so happy that this is the first book that I have published and that I’m sharing with the world.

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ABOUT “HOW DO YOU SEE ME?”

When you are asked the question, how do you define yourself, how do you answer? Is your answer constructed by your physical features or constructed by your life achievements? And when you ask someone else who you are, how do they see you?

Through the collection of African American poetry written in “How Do You See Me?”, the way that we define ourselves as individuals is unfolded as we consider how our past, present, and future have shaped us. In this book, you’ll find many poems that are based on my own life as well as being mixed together with the histories and stories of African Americans.

This book aims to give a definition of what it means to reclaim your identity and how you go about doing so. In so many instances, we allow stereotypes to play into how we see people, and it is time for those stereotypes to dissipate and become something that we laugh about instead of it shaping how we see others and how others see us.

What I do want to make clear is that this book is not a collection on non-fiction poems that outline my life exactly. There are a variety of stories that are interwoven in these poems that I also match my personal story and the people that have inspired me in my life. I will not claim all of these histories as my own, just as I cannot claim that all of the present-day injustices that are taking place only affect me and my family. We are a culture of blended stories, and I wanted these poems to reflect that.

 

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THE BACKGROUND OF HOW THIS BOOK CAME TO BE

In 2016, I was finishing up my master’s degree in creative writing. As a part of completing the degree, I had to do a thesis – a study that shows our mastery of the study that we are getting the degree in.

At first, I didn’t know what I specifically wanted to do for my master’s thesis. I was stuck in between doing a biographical research study on an author that has inspired me, a collection of short stories that I had produced in the classes that I had taken, and this collection of poetry. It was one of my college professors that indirectly convinced me to do the collection of poetry through one of the seminars that she had given.

While in my first year of studying for my master’s, I had a poetry class where she taught us to go beyond the structure and generalities of poetry but to create a language that inspires, breathes, and paints a new world. It was one of the classes that I looked forward to every day, and when she recognized my passion for poetry, she invited me to assist at a poetry conference that she had founded with some of her peers. It was at this conference that I was able to connect with and learn from a variety of writers, and to see their words and the impact that they made on others, just gave me the push I needed to go in this direction.

This thesis has existed since I graduated in 2016, but solely existed on my personal shelf and the shelf at the university that I attended. But as things have further transpired around us in connection to the social injustice that is happening around our country, I felt that it was time for this to be shared.

I will admit that this wasn’t something I was fully going to publish, but the consultant, Marisa, that I work with from ChloeDigital, convinced me that it was time. And now, here it is.

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WHAT I WANT READERS TO GET FROM MY COLLECTION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN POETRY IN  “HOW DO YOU SEE ME?”

From this collection of African American poetry, I want at least one poem to touch someone directly. I want it to reach into their soul and let them feel as if someone sees them for who they truly are.

I don’t mean for this book to only connect to African American females. It is a book for everyone. A book that is there to teach, relate, and connect. We are a group of people that have faced adversity in some way or another. Whether we have been outcast because of our ethnicity, gender, or another aspect of ourselves, those moments and the aspects that make us who we are, creates our identity. And overall, that is what this book is about.

I want people to see that we have the right to create, mold, and define our own identities. And though that power is often taken away from us by society, we have the power to reclaim it and let others know we are who we say we are based on how we feel.

As you’re reading this book, I want you to come to an understanding that we are all human and that we make up society. Society does not make us.

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WHERE YOU AND I GO FROM HERE

From here, you and I see each other. We recognize each other as individuals, and together we learn that it is in conversation that we learn who another person is. It is from listening to the stories and fully hearing what the other is saying that we will discover who is standing in front of us. It is not through what they look like, how they talk, or through the lens of a stereotype that we define people.

Additionally, from here, we learn how to define ourselves and know that we have the power to create a better world and to educate others on how to create a world of equality and fairness.

We all have a lot more power than we realize. And it’s time that we use it.

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