As a child, writing short stories and poetry saved my life. As an only child, that was my way of escaping some of the harsh realities I faced. It allowed me to be whoever or whatever I wanted.
In the first grade at Turie T. Small Elementary, I wrote my first official children’s book entitled “The Dirtiest Boy,” a funny short story about a young boy who just never seemed to wanna bathe – ultimately causing him to turn into a pile of dirt.
Found my passion
Although I was only 7 years old, my book was so well-received that I was featured in the Volusia County Young Authors Conference twice. For a little boy who grew up with no siblings or money, just imagine the amount of adoration and self-pride that gave me. I knew then and there that I knew what I wanted to be as an adult: a fulltime author and writer.
The ability to put your own thoughts on paper and keep an audience engaged is a talent no different from shooting three-pointers or scoring a touchdown. Some of the greatest leaders and voices started as writers.
Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin and many of our nation’s greatest freedom fighters truly understood the power of connecting through written media.
Malcolm X, one of my personal influences, produced the Nation Of Islam’s weekly newsletters because people trust print more than they trust television.
Being a writer with a positive voice is one of the most powerful positions you can take. It’s important to have Black-centered news media and writers who can share their experiences without being silenced.
There seems to be a lack of respect for poetry writers nowadays that confuses me. I don’t understand the minimization of such an important talent. I’ve watched my grandma pour her heart out into writing and producing original works of poetry. She’s even had national magazines publish some of her work.
So I’ve always understood the power and beauty behind putting pen to paper. Even though poetry has been associated more frequently with women, some of the biggest and toughest names in music will and will always be poets at heart. Poetry is the most beautiful language of all, an underrated art form and a saving grace for young people still finding their way.
If we pushed community programs focused on writing and literature, we’d have many more inspired children. Writing takes your mind to the deepest depths. With the way the rap industry has taken over pop culture, you’d expect more interest in writing, considering every rapper uses ghostwriters these days.
Pens over guns
There’d be a massive turnaround if more young Black men picked up a pen instead of a gun. Art and creative therapy is proven to help children focus and want to succeed. While many will argue that creative and liberal arts have no place in public education, I say the most basic three concepts of education are reading, writing and arithmetic. Without the ability to grasp and own human language, you will never know your true potential.
Most children growing up right now want to be famous by any means necessary. In the Black community, there are two hyped-up ways to make it out of the hood: sports (usually football, basketball or soccer) and music (rapping, singing or dancing). Chances of a Black kid from a poor neighborhood making it in those two avenues are slim to none.
That’s why it’s important to diversify the youth and immerse them in culture. We must teach them many styles of artistry and craftsmanship such as carpentry, agriculture and writing. Journalism and publishing are two of the most lucrative professions and it’s exciting to see the writing community advance using social media and technology.
I’ve finally accomplished my passion project. This fall, my first officially published book, “One Step At A Time,” will be released globally everywhere and will be available in paperback, streaming and digital download.
It chronicles the powerful steps I took after being diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis and its effects on my mind and body. It’s a story for people who had to lose themselves to discover who they truly are.
Writing became my therapy and transformed my life. I hope my passion inspires you to do the same.
Rell Black is an award-winning activist, blogger and the founder of Community Healing Project Inc.