Since my dad’s passing in 2003, I’ve wanted to write a book about ALS with a focus on the impact it had on my family and the importance of bringing awareness to an obscure terminal disease. When the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge happened in 2014, I was flooded with emotion as many painful memories that were buried for over a decade resurfaced. Two things became clear: My subconscious never left the anger/depression stage of grief and today, ALS has many public champions dedicating time, treasure and talent to retire this disease for good. With that, I found helpful ways to heal personally and no longer feel the need to write about what the world already knows.
I think there is a different story that needs to be told. Instead of focusing on how my dad died, it’s far more important to share with others how he lived. During that time, dad went out of his way to provide ‘teaching moments’ about life, a framework of self-governance and how we ought to conduct ourselves in society. Most importantly, he focused on the things that matter. Dad never let distractions take him away from his passions and events out of his control were seen as moot.
Today, I find the challenges of working-class and poor folks harder than ever before. While dad told me explicitly to ‘keep my head down’, work hard and be honest, it’s more complicated than that now. The world is a far more complicated place than my childhood in the 90’s – before the (high speed) internet, smartphones, and social media.
My goal with this book is to illustrate how the virtues my dad instilled in me created a framework for success by learning how to endure suffering, overcome failure and push forward regardless of circumstances. The title, Hillbilly Ebonics is meant to intrigue – by marrying two words from different parts of the American experience. It’s about a dad who never read or wrote but operated and taught me based on oral tradition alone, just like many of our ancestors. His stories were filled with generations of accumulated wisdom that runs in parallel with many Black Americans that were forced to pass on their culture through similar means because opportunities to read were not allowed or available. I believe that his ‘lead by example’ narrative offers insight that can help us improve upon elements of equal opportunity, justice, race relations, and other social/economic issues to build a more perfect union.
While this book is an ongoing project, competing for my time with other priorities, I look to publish and release it sometime in 2023 or 2024. In the meantime, this website serves as an idea board to sketch out stories and individual elements to form a more refined first draft for publishers.