"Black Boy Smile": D Watkins on growing up whole in E. Baltimore
Joining Tom now is the author, screenwriter, and columnist D Watkins. He is a New York Times best-selling author of four books, and an editor at large and columnist at Salon, and the winner of several awards. He was also one of the writers on the HBO mini-series, We Own This City, based on a book by the Baltimore Banner’s Justin Fenton and produced by David Simon, the creator of The Wire, among other critically acclaimed shows.
D Watkins’ latest book is a searing, vivid portrait of his life before and since he’s achieved success as a writer. Growing up in East Baltimore, he was involved, for a while, in the kind of things that often get kids in that part of our city killed or thrown in jail. Watkins chronicles a childhood, adolescence and young adulthood in which uncertainty and fear were constant companions. He explores his often-troubled relationship with his father, and he takes a hard look at the culture of manliness and stoic toughness that leads to a particular brand of toxic masculinity.
The book tracks his journey from scared kid to streetwise hustler to loving father, and it provides trenchant insight into the experience of growing up where, in Watkins’ words, “violence was his own personal painkiller.”
It's called Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments. (2022, Legacy Lit /Grand central Publishing)
D Watkins joins us on Zoom from Baltimore.