Why D. Watkins, Salon’s Editor at Large, is sick of “woke” culture


It’s been five years since writer D. Watkins published his viral essay “Too poor for pop culture” on Salon. So much has changed for him since then. He became a two-time best-selling author, he joined Salon’s staff as Editor at Large and regularly hosts the “Salon Talks” video show, and continues to write on politics and culture for Salon.

In the episode above, Watkins wasn’t representing Salon as its go-to interviewer, but joining “Salon Talks” as a guest to talk about the publication of his third book, “We Speak for Ourselves: A Word from Forgotten Black America.”

Watkins reflects on his journey as a writer, why he rejects being defined as an activist and why he promotes direct service instead. He explains the ubiquitousness of the “activist” label, and how the ease of social media has diluted its meaning. People now think tweeting can replace tangible, local action. This isn’t a knock on anyone on social media, Watkins says, but his message is that “there needs to be an element of direct service.”

“It’s my job to try to highlight and bring stories that get left out some of these mainstream race books,” Watkins told SalonTV’s Rachel Leah of the premise of his book. “I didn’t go to one of those Ivy league schools or one of those top HBCUs, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have something positive things to contribute to society.”

Both in his 2014 essay in 2014 in “We Speak for Ourselves,” Watkins charges readers to think critically about access at the most basic level, and how, as he says, “information is class-based.”

Watch the episode above to hear D. Watkins talk about the power of reading and the book that have impacted his life and career.


About “Salon Talks”

Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on Salon.com.


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