Our Voices, Our stories, Simon & Schuster, 2018
Tracy Deonn Walker grew up hating Black History Month.
Every time February rolled around at school, she’d sink in her chair a little lower, anxiously avoiding the eyes of her white classmates that stared expectantly at her. She says in her essay “Black Girl, Becoming” — part of Our Voices, Our Stories, a new anthology focused on stories about growing up female in the US — that “excitement about being black is scary to white people; this much I’d learned.” Walker, who is participating in the Bookmarks Festival for the first time this year, recounts her struggles and identity crisis of growing up black in both white and black circles and how she often felt “too white to be black while being far too brown to be white.”
Meet Walker at the Our Voices, Our Stories panel on Saturday from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. at Hanesbrands Theatre. Book-signing to follow at 4 p.m.
“The essay is about microaggressions in certain spaces and being pushed and pulled and squeezed into different identities,” says Walker, who grew up in the North Carolina Triangle and describes herself as black, female and geeky. “I have all these different identities and I learned that the shame, guilt and worry I had about being myself wasn’t really about me, it was more about the environment that I was in.” These days, Walker continues to explore the intersections of her identities and can often be found geeking out at different nerdy conventions across the country. She hopes her writing helps readers, kids in particular, to “feel like they’re capable of the impossible and that their abilities are not bound by anyone else.”