Black Boy Smile A Memoir in Moments
There are two sides of D. Watkins--one, a professor, New York Times bestselling author, editor-at-large of Salon.com, and devoted husband and father. And the other, a boy raised in poverty during the height of a crack epidemic, who learned to survive on some of the most violent streets in America. It wasn't until Watkins was thirty that he realized that he wanted more than what money and street life offered--finding himself on the wrong side of pistols, slinging crack on street corners, and burying friend after friend--he wanted to escape, he wanted education, love, and joy. BLACK BOY SMILE poignantly illuminates the journey of his transformation. Watkins retraces his tumultuous childhood and his relationship with his dad, uncles, and other boys like him to shine a light on how generational hardship breeds toxic masculinity. In harrowing, searing prose, he recreates defining moments of his past to heal them. He shares candid recollections of being taken advantage of at nine by an older woman at camp--and how he coped through stoic silence disguised as manhood--alongside lively and humorous portrayals of his first days in a college classroom and the quirks of attending an MFA program. We grow up with Watkins as he discovers a love for books, flirts with his future wife--an attorney--and becomes a father, finding joy for the first time. Watkins' pursuit of redemption is a valentine to Black boys. In beautiful, soul-shaking storytelling, he brings to life the contradictions, fears, and hopes of Black boys in urban cities and shows the path toward self-discovery on every page. BLACK BOY SMILE is a testimony that our strengths can often be found in our flaws--that when we acknowledge the fallacies of our past, we can uncover a brighter future. BLACK BOY SMILE is the story of a Black boy who healed.