D. Watkins Reflects on His Past in Baltimore: 'We Couldn't Even Grow Up First'
June 14, 2022
Contact: University Relations
Interviewed in The Baltimore Banner on the occasion of his new book, Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments, critically acclaimed author and University of Baltimore lecturer D. Watkins discusses the roots of his tendency to be wary of empathy—both giving and receiving it.
"It's very important, because the result of just living a life of not hugging and not being told, 'I love you,' as a grown man, right now, I still feel awkward doing those things. It just wasn't a part of my makeup. Even before COVID, I'd do the quick church hug and get off extremely quick. That being said, I hug my child and my wife every chance I get, because I know what that has done to me and I would not want that to be given to them," he says. "I say that to say, us Black males need those real, meaningful relationships and to be given that affection and given that love."
Watkins, who grew up in Baltimore, says his relationship with his life partner led him to the insights he needed to understand himself and grow.
"She wanted to build with me and I was too foolish to see it," Watkins says. "Because I couldn't think past what somebody would say about her broke boyfriend. When I was coming up, 13-year-old girls were comparing us to rappers like Jay-Z. We couldn't even grow up first. And instead of me growing out of that thought process of comparing my life to other, more established people, my ego wouldn't let me fathom the thought of just being loved for myself."
Read the article in The Baltimore Banner.