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I do not believe myself to be a writer in the sense of one who entertains, but more so

in the sense of one who has made the decision to share their truth. This decision to share my
story has unveiled, even to myself, pieces of my life that would have otherwise been
overlooked. Although I do not particularly consider myself to be a professional, what I have
to say through my writing is meant to be perceived as art, to make those who read it feel
something. With that being said, my writing does not define who I am, but rather why I am.
Furthermore, the writing stages of my life have been direct reflections of the various levels
of growth and maturity I have undergone, and each phase of reading and writing has marked
a transitional period in my life of knowledge and understanding of both my surroundings and
Since my earliest of childhood years, I have always been under the high expectations
of my parents, more specifically, my mother. In elementary school, while the other children
received thunderous applause and words of praise for their efforts and good work, my
mothers slight smile and generic, vague, and brief words toward my obviously graded:
Exceptional, work always implied to me that, once again, my work could be improved. My
mothers silent pressure stemmed from the idea that she expected my siblings and I to always
do well because that was what we were supposed to do, and this concept of consistently
doing the best that could be done in school needed no reward in her eyes. Nevertheless, the
expectations from my mother for me to succeed became my expectations for myself.
Writing and reading are aspects of which I cannot recall ever learning, yet I have
loved the two for as long as I can remember. However, there have been things along the way
that have impacted and shaped the way I view writing, things, both positive and negative,

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that have changed my perspective completely, but have made me a better writer in the
For instance, while still in elementary schoolcirca late-fifth grademy mother
made it mandatory for my siblings and I to copy a large amount of words from the dictionary
every other day. We began in the As with words like aardvark and a cappella, words that
I, at the time, had no use for and, therefore, did not retain for very long. In my young mind,
this seemingly helpful idea for improvement was the worst form of punishment any child
could experience when it came to educational practices. I resented the repetitive copying of
words, and despised it even more once it was deemed the go-to punishment my parents had
for me. Reluctant as I was to submit to the increasing of my vocabulary, I would soon gain
full understanding of the importance of words.
Despite my brief loathing of words as a result of the diction-centered torture, I came
to love words once again, enjoyed the linguistics of words, and had an urge to supplement
my vocabulary; these were the effects of my exposure to poetry. Although I had known what
poetry was, I was not aware of its full extent until junior high when I discovered spoken
word, the stage performance of poetry that involves fluctuation of voice, the presentation of
words, and passion-driven content. Spoken word came to me in the form of a television
series called Brave New Voices, a poetry slam of sorts that followed the lives of several
contestants in a nationwide competition. In the process of learning about this new form of
poetry, I became conscious of the way words sounded together and strove to imitate the
beauty in what I heard in spoken word. By watching and learning about spoken word, I was
inspired to write more for myself, to express my emotions and personal feelings regarding
the issues of society. Through continuous practice, I developed the ability to articulate my

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thoughts in a more organized manner. More importantly, poetry and spoken word assisted me
in my acuity involving the English language in general, and aided in my comprehension of
the ability and power of words, in spite of my former opinions.
Essentially, I redefined what writing meant to me. Through finding something I was
passionate about, I was able to clear the negative stigmas I associated with writing and focus
on the positives in order to become a better writer. As I became more comfortable in my
writing, I began to share through spoken word as well. During my freshman year of high
school, I was introduced to a lady that played a significant role in a positive transitional
period of my writing. Ms. Darlene offered me a platform where I was able to share my
writing with other artists as well as members of my community. Through these experiences I
found solace in prose and comfort on stage.
Another influential person in my writing journey was brought into my life
during the same year. Mrs. Rice, a high school theatre teacher, who has become my mentor,
artistic companion, and friend, introduced me to Performance Theatre. In the process of
learning the dynamics of theatre, I was familiarized with the realms that contribute to
working productions which include directing, script-writing, and reading. These skills
furthered my understanding not only of theatre, but in writing in other forms. I was able to
take these new-found skills and apply them to what I had previously learned in my
exploration of writing. Reading traditional pieces by William Shakespeare, Geoffrey
Chaucer, and Seamus Haney gave me the opportunity to see outside of contemporary works
and to acquire an appreciation for the works of our predecessors.
However, as I stated before, there were negative incidences that occurred over the
course of this journey that challenged the way that I viewed myself as a writer. One example

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of adversity, pertaining to my writing, spanned the entire length of my last semester in high
school. This particular case of opposition came in the form of an Advance Placement
instructor who immediately singled me, and a close friend of mine, out as examples of how
not to write for the rest of the class. I do not believe it to be a coincidence that of all of the
students in class, the two of us were the only individuals who were of African descent. I also
do not find anything coincidental in the fact that we each received consistently similar grades
throughout the entire semester, whereas those who admitted to continuously neglecting to do
assignments were given, progressively, much better grades. Although this was not my first
experience with such irrational behavior, I was taken aback by the lack of respect my work
received. In the midst of my frustration as a writer, I was enlightened of my position in
society due to the theories about my ethnicity which, in turn, expedited my writing in a more
culture-based direction. This unfortunate circumstance resulted in me searching for more
information about my own culture and implementing it into my writing, inside and outside of
the classroom. I was able to channel my thoughts of the oppression of my people into
passion-driven essays and spoken word pieces. Once more, I had taken a negative situation
with a potential devastating end and used it to my advantage, opposed to letting the adversity
fester into something much worse.
Nonetheless, this writing process has become a spiritual journey, or pilgrimage, to
finding myself, in the hopes of developing a conscientious perspective of the world. Through
the progression of my writing, I have come to realize that each stage of this process revealed
a different aspect of myself, such as the fact that I have the natural instinct to turn negatives
into positives, or the fact that my expectations for myself have been the result of the
educational conditioning of my mother. To state that this journey has consisted of only

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improvement or developmental factors would not give the entire truth to the story, yet it was
the basis of these obstructions that have allowed my entirety to be spoken.
From the time in which I first learned to read and write to this moment, right now,
my writing has been marginalized, scrutinized, disrespected, appreciated, and accepted, and
the cycle will undoubtedly continue, but as before, I will use the criticism toward the
betterment of this art, in the hopes of bettering myself. Although my own personal
experiences have shifted my writing through phases of growth and erudition, the importance
in finding the answer to the question of why I am will forever be mirrored in the influences
of hardships and my responses to them. In all, the ideas I have expressed through writing this
were to acknowledge myself not necessarily as a writer, but as one who creates art, through
writing, for the sole purpose of sharing a piece of myself in hopes that the audience, too, may
find their own truth.