RELEASE DATE: Fall 2023
Since my dad’s passing in 2003, I’ve wanted to write a book about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (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:
1) My subconscious never left the anger/depression stage of grief.
2) 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.
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 didn’t let distractions take him away from his passions and he never worried about things outside of his control.
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 and even offend – by marrying two words from different parts of the American experience. It’s about a dad who barely made it through high school, never read a book but taught me based on experience and oral tradition alone – just like many of our ancestors. His stories were filled with generations of accumulated wisdom that could never be acquired by an academic institution. This runs in parallel with many Black Americans that were forced to pass on their culture and way of life through similar means because opportunities to read and write were not allowed much less available. I believe that his ‘lead by example’ narrative offers insight that can help us all have more ‘skin in the game’, ownership in the system, and the ability to take personal responsibility while improving upon elements of equal opportunity, justice, race relations, and other social/economic issues the nation currently faces.
While this book is an ongoing project, competing for my time with other priorities, I look to publish and release it sometime in the Fall of 2023. 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. As a math guy and non-writer, I am certainly looking for an editor!