I believe in the power that comes from the anonymity of the story. If you want to inspire me with the truth, I suggest writing a memoir. Unknowingly perhaps, new author Dr. Andrew Campbell has written a collection of motivational passages that read like a memoir. “Teachable Moments with Dr. ABC: A spoonful for the journey” is truth storytelling.
Teachable Moments is a collection of Dr. Campbell’s writings from his Facebook page of the same name, Teachable Moments with Dr. ABC. The 131 standalone short pieces are called ‘word powers’ with an accompanying theme. Think: Chicken Soup for the Soul. I spoke to Dr. Campbell about his motivations and hopes for his first foray into publishing. Our conversation was insightful, impassioned and intense. I consider it a spoonful for my journey.
Why did you write this book?
I have always liked sharing my thoughts. I like to hear the thoughts of other people because I grow from people sharing their thoughts. I have benefitted from other people’s thoughts; whether it has been on the subway or driving home or a cruise faraway. My intention with the book was to pass it on.
There is a positive communication movement happening right now that focuses heavily on the next step, but you do so much looking back in this book. Why?
Reflection is important. I live a very reflective life. I find value in asking, “What did I do?” “What can I do better?” What can I learn from what happened and how can I do better. As an educator, I live by reflection. When I teach educators, lesson planning classes, one of the biggest things I want to see is reflection. Reflection is important in going forward or you will make the same mistake again.
Everything happens on social media these days. As a Black author, do you see a place for Teachable moments in the Black lives matter movement?
First of all the book is not just for Black people- it is for old people, straight people, young people, White people, anyone. I am glad you asked this question because I want to zero in on this book being a journey. Each story is a spoonful. There are 131 stories. Each chapter will not appeal to everyone. There are chapters on my sexuality, there is a chapter that is very religious. So, some chapters won’t appeal to you while others will.
I would say to the Black Lives Matter movement that there is a spoonful in this for you. My book is talking about the strength of self. When you stand up, you have to stand alone. There are messages in it about standing up, about sharing love. And it is important to have self-love.
At your launch, you said the book being accessible or easily readable was important to you.
This book was for my neighbour. This book was for my mother. This book was for a young boy. This book was for the struggling person not going to college. The language is extremely honest. Two persons who helped me edit the book asked me more than once to change the Jamaican dialect to reach more people- when I write it in English it doesn’t mean the same to me. That is me being authentic to self, your vocabulary, the choice of words. I want you to know the writer is Jamaican. I want you to know I said gully. It wasn’t a stream I went to catch the fish. It is not a brook. It is not a stream. It is a gully.
I was the only Black person in my Ph.D class. Everyone sounded different than me and that bothered me. Different to me sounded… better. I will never forget when someone used the term ‘loose coupling’- it just sounded deep, educational and powerful coming from them. But whenever I spoke in class, everyone would look at me. They would laugh, they would shake their head. To me, those were negative looks and negative laughter. One day the teacher called me and said you sound like an educator. I can hear the experience when you comment in class and the whole thing flipped in my mind. I was afraid to ask what the term loose coupling meant. When I figured it out, I laughed. People were just trying to show their level of learning. There is a place for the jargon. Newspapers are written at a grade 5-8 level. So, another level of access is the language I chose to use.
Do you think people were editing your work to sound White?
It was to sound proper and maybe proper is equal to White. Proper sounds White. Black people have been shut out of a lot of spaces because they don’t have the password. They don’t have access. That is my issue. We are telling people that what they have, what they own is not good enough. I have grown to realize what I have is good enough. When I write that term paper, I have to do it a certain way. In class, I have to teach my students to produce work written a certain way. What I am not forced to do is write my book the way you want me to write it.
What would you say to that young Black person who doesn’t read, who thinks reading won’t pay the bills?
There are two things to that. Books take you places. Books let you know more. I remember as a young boy reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys between grade 6 and grade 8. I learned so much. My vocabulary got better. My understanding of the world was more enriched and I got a better understanding of how you think. The world is bigger than the street we live on. You have to know more than just your street or your corner and you won’t know if you don’t read.
Reading is currency. It is money. Reading puts words in your pocket. If you step into a store with $5 in your pocket, you look at the price and you know what items you are able to purchase. If you are not literate and walk into a space or store, you can’t communicate what you want. You can’t negotiate in that space. You can’t be no diva if all you know is just your corner or your street. It is currency.
Where can we purchase your book and reach out to you for speaking opportunities?