Highlighting Past and Present OAR Contributors–Topic: Race & Racism

By: Hannah Lewis

This is part one of a four part series in which contributors from our 2019/2020 issues are interviewed on the topic of their published work– in the case of this series, the topics discussed will deal with race and racism. The United States is in the midst of a great awakening and it is imperative that we take the time to educate ourselves on what’s going on, why this is happening and how we can help; that starts with uplifting the voices of BIPOC wherever possible and listening to their stories and struggles about life in America. Today we’re highlighting Darnell “DeeSoul” Carson, whose piece “Captain’s Log” can be read in our upcoming 2020 issue. Here he can be seen performing his piece on Button Poetry: Captain’s Log


Q: What do you hope readers take away from your piece?                                                     A: When people read this, what I want them to understand most is that Black people have such a different lived experience than many other groups of people within the American context. We spend so much time taking note of different interactions with people or environments, and we often find ourselves interrogating sincerity and safety.

Q: How do you feel about the current situation happening in the US (BLM)?
A: I think the current situation in the U.S. regarding BLM was a long time coming, and we wish it didn’t have to come to this point. For years, Black people have been trying to get the public and government to understand the ways this society hurts us, but we have continually been silenced or ignored, and I think a lot of people are fed up with that, and rightfully so.
Q: If there is one thing you could tell Americans in regard to BLM, what would it be?
A: Listen to Black people. We aren’t trying to incite violence or anything; we want to believe that we are granted the same safety and grace as our white counterparts. Instead of focusing on how people get angry, learn what systems we’re mad about, and see if there are ways in which you contribute to those systems and how you can push against them.
Q: What is your personal experience in being a POC & an artist? Do you feel there is a difference in the treatment of POC in the arts?
A: I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by so many other amazing POC artists. I think that the art of POC isn’t legitimized until a white person does the same thing, or that it is reframed to be more palatable for white audiences. I think the issue is that the “audience” is viewed as white and things are curated to appeal to them, a lot of important work is left out of the conversation. I meet POC artists all the time who impress me to no end, and I don’t see them being given their flowers.
Q: Tell me about yourself and your personal journey as an artist/writer?
A: I began writing Spoken Word in my freshman year of high school after being heavily influenced by Rudy Francisco. He is a renowned Spoken Word poet and friend of my uncle, Kendrick Dial, also a poet and musician. I performed for many school assemblies and became known as “that poet guy,” so it was quickly ingrained into my personality. Fast-forward to my first year of college, and I was able to join the Stanford Spoken Word Collective, and I really can’t imagine my college experience without them. I have met so many inspiring and incredible writers and people in this group who are very passionate about the things they do. My writing in college is leagues better than what I used to write. I get so embarrassed about sharing older work. A lot of my growth has come from just reading and watching poetry, which I think is the most helpful thing for any writer, to consume more work and see what sticks with you. My journey is far from over, and I’m glad to have so many people I can lean on and look to for support.

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