Link-Up 2 Lift-Up offers a route towards mental liberation and total independence for African citizen in the US while imparting personal experiences and observations. What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?
Every idea or position that I expressed in my book was inspired by the zeitgeist of our time: To abolish institutional racism (AIR) so that all Americans can breathe. My postulations and assertions are based on my studies and/or life-experiences. As I embarked on a self-imposed writing challenge, it became clear that some of my ideas were evidence of my latent learning. These unveiled ideas were held within my heart and mind – and revealed when our nation and world were altogether shocked by the blatant disregard of a black man’s life: George Floyd. Therefore, I really cannot place a rating on the relevance (e.g., important or not-important) or a scale (e.g., greatest or least) on the idea(s) written in my “Culture Kingdom” wokebook. That said, I’d really like to know what some ideas that readers found important?
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
Because of my self-imposed 30-day writing challenge criteria, I had to refrain from elaborating or sharing too many actual details from both my academic insight and real-life experiences. Therefore, the hardest thing to overcome was writing a cohesive and comprehensive theme – as a co-worker in the kingdom of culture – in a concise way. After I developed my writing flow, I didn’t find my story hard to write about at all because I am brutally honest – all the time; which is sort of a blessing and a curse. However, I was surprised by the deep emotions that overtook me at times while writing about life-altering past experiences. One writing difficulty occurred when I recollected the memories of my thirteen-year-old daughter who was peer-pressured to attend a block party in our community; whereby, she was stabbed seventeen times from her head down her back – lacerating both lungs, one kidney, and undergoing a blood transfusion.
Another surprising, suppressed memory aroused my emotions when I recalled into my mental being my overt encounterment with institutional racism; wherein, a judge, with the stroke of his pen and the power of the Duval County court system, denied me of my rights – under both the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and State of Florida Family Laws. I felt like a slave woman (whose owner sold away her offspring) when that judge ordered the courts to unlawfully remove my four minor children from my parental custody during my diabolical divorce proceedings.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?
I hope readers understand and assert equal rights and justice for all Americans; regardless of the socially constructed race, gender, or class system that we have been assigned and subjected to live within – in the great American experiment. Historically, our environmental context has been to survive and thrive by complying to the societal norms set forth by our ancestors and predecessors who did not view diversity, human rights, and quality of life as we do today. Unfortunately, most people have learned to avoid speaking openly and candidly about variables, such as cultural privileges, cultural constraints, etc., so institutional racism continues to affect us as it lives on today– much like the Coronavirus – not seen but felt and experienced by us all subtly in some way or another. Furthermore, I hope readers take away from my story a boldness to be straightforward and confront our own biases, prejudices, discriminatory, and bigoted attitudes and behaviors, so that we can begin a pluralistic cultural reconciliation – as one nation for our future generations.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is on my former dissertation prospectus topic – Leadership. It is also a mix between memoir and reference book; as I share scholarship combined with my life-experiences from my days as a community activist in the south (October 2005 through October 2015) and from my short unsuccessful political run for mayor for the City of Jacksonville, Florida (November 2016 through August 2018). My next wokebook is expected to be available October 2022.
Posted in Interviews
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Embracing Each Other’s Humanity
Somewhere Different Now follows two spirited teens struggling to maintain an inter-racial friendship that the world seems to want to tear apart. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
Loss is what undergirds the experiences of both Annie and Clydeen. I had developed the Annie character right up to the point where she finds the lean-to on the mesa. I knew I wanted to explore the nature of society in post-WWII America. Who was benefitting from the newfound national pride, optimism, and prosperity, and who was not, but I had yet to formulate a means of exploring that idea.
In terms of white society, Vivian says it best when she wonders why Annie is asking questions about the Holocaust when “everyone else” is just trying to forget about all that and have a nice life. Everyone? Really? I had no idea that a character like Clydeen would show up when Annie returns to the mesa after an absence, but there she was. That opened a way to juxtapose how differently Annie (white) and Clydeen (black) experienced the world, in terms of not only the depth of the tragedies responsible for each of their wounds, but also their fears and the resources available to them to cope and possibly even to survive.
Annie and Clydeen’s relationship is well developed and one I enjoyed following. What were some driving ideals behind the development of their relationship?
Trust is certainly on important one – the difficulty of forging and maintaining trust as Annie and Clydeen become more and more enmeshed in each other’s lives. They must dive deep to find a ground of commonality strong enough to sustain their relationship.
Fully embracing each other’s humanity is undoubtedly the most important and the most touching aspect of their relationship. At first, Clydeen is something of a curiosity to Annie, a playmate, a distraction from her loneliness and depression. For Clydeen, Annie is someone who is willing to sustain her physically while she tries to figure out what to do next. But because they spend so much time together away from other influences, their true selves emerge – even those parts of themselves they may not have known existed, such as Annie’s inner generational racism; Clydeen’s envy of the house Annie lives in and all she thinks it means; and the fears aroused in each of them about the consequences of being discovered together.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Intergenerational racism and its effect on a young mind. In Annie’s case, she had a propensity to turn away from the racism of her father and other extended family members. But when push came to shove, her main goal was to get Clydeen out of her life before anyone found out about her. But she cared about Clydeen too much by then to simply abandon her. Internalized racism was in the driver’s seat. It took Annie a while to realize it, and once she did, she had to find the courage to accept the consequences of turning her back on her cultural conditioning.
Courage. From the beginning of the story, Annie wants to transform what she sees as her lack of courage. Annie finds the courage to choose Clydeen and fully embrace her, despite the consequences she fears from her racist father in particular.
Control. Annie believes she can control how the summer on the mesa will come to a close, if only Clydeen will cooperate. Clydeen, however, lives day-to-day and is unwilling or unable to peer into the future the way Annie does. Until Ulie arrives, she believes she is dependent on the vagaries of a fate she has no control over, so why bother trying to figure it out?
Agency. Ultimately, Clydeen has to disregard what Annie thinks is best for her. Part of her realizes that at least a part of Annie’s agenda is grounded in her fears about her father finding out about the two of them. In other words, Annie’s plans are tainted. Clydeen has to step away from what Annie wants and find a path to her own agency so she can begin to pick up the pieces of her life.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book will deal with some of the same issues a few years down the line. This book will be written in third person past tense rather than first person present tense. One of the main characters will be a white woman named Stella whose sheltered suburban life as a homemaker has become untenable. Annie and Clydeen will appear again, as will Imani Jackson. The plight of gay youth who have been rejected by their families will figure into the story, as well as a renegade priest and a young girl with amnesia. At this point, I don’t have any idea when it might be out.
Posted in Interviews
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Link-Up 2 Lift-Up
Link-Up 2 Lift-Up by educator and author Doreszell Cohen is written from an emic perspective to give a deeper insight into the lives of the descendants of the enslaved Africans in the United States of America. Cohen is a highly qualified educator living in Jacksonville, Florida. After facing institutionalized racism herself, she realized that a significant reason why instances like this still happen is that there is a lack of knowledge not just for people from outside the community but even from within. She went ahead and established an institution called Link-Up 2 Lift-Up Inc. as a helping hand for African Citizens living in the States, who might need assistance to overcome the hurdles of institutionalized racism and even help eliminate it completely.
Link-Up 2 Lift-Up is a “wokebook” intended to eliminate the ignorance about and within the African community. Cohen’s book also aims to help not only eliminate the institutionalized racism but also create a state of pluralism wherein the African community can peacefully and respectfully coexist with the rest of the population of the States.
The book starts with an introduction to the personal story of Cohen, then dives into the beginnings of Link-Up 2 Lift-Up as an institution. Cohen puts all her emotions and thoughts out on the page for readers. There is nothing held back from Cohen’s telling of her story, there are photos, emails, letters, all attesting to the experiences her family has endured. Cohen relies heavily on her faith to get her through some of the hardest moments in her life. When her daughter was brutally stabbed seventeen times she prayed nonstop for her to recover. Those that take comfort in faith will admire how spirituality helps define who Cohen is and impacts the direction of her life.
Link-Up 2 Lift-Up by Doreszell Cohen presents readers with an emic approach to the lives of African Americans and the sheer amount of social impact that Cohen has managed to create. I would recommend this book to anyone who seeks to get a deeper insight into the lives and struggles of the descendants of the enslaved Africans. A cross between a memoir and reference book, readers will see the world through Cohen’s eyes and learn from her experiences.
Pages: 108 | ASIN : B08KSWYZ3M
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
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Inspired by my Love of Art and Music
American River: Tributaries follows three immigrant families struggling to pursue their dreams during the turbulent 1960’s. What served as your inspiration while writing this book?
My love of Northern California, the place where I grew up, and the wonderful history of the area. I was also inspired by my love of art and music and my passion for social justice issues. Immigration and ethnic diversity are the cornerstones of the story.
This book has so many fascinating characters that are well developed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your characters?
Basically, the story focuses on the creative search for meaning, knowledge, compassion and understanding in a tumultuous world filled with prejudice, obstacles, jealousy, and betrayal. As my characters encounter these obstacles, they discover their own strengths and weaknesses and grow beyond their self-centered ambitions.
I thoroughly enjoyed the historical backdrop to the story and how well researched it was. What historical milestones were important for you to highlight in this book?
The Gold Rush had a tremendous impact on the population and culture of California. Before the Gold Rush, the population consisted mainly of Native Californians and Californios (settlers and landowners of mixed Spanish, Native Californian, and African descent). But gold fever brought people to California from all over the country and the world. The Anglo Americans (of English, Irish, or Scots descent), other Europeans (including Italians, Russians, Greeks and East Europeans), Chinese, Japanese, African Americans, and many more who came and stayed. This changed the makeup of the state’s population making it one of the most ethnically diverse in the country. So, this cultural diversity sets the scene for later entanglements.
Most of the story takes place in the 1960s, that decade that Time Magazine recently termed “The decade that changed a generation.” So, I take the reader down memory lane as my characters encounter the major issues of the time: immigration, racial prejudice, migrant workers, gay rights, women’s rights and the Vietnam War.
This is book one in the American River Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two, American River: Currents?
In Book Two, American River: Currents, a cavalcade of disasters—both personal and public—threatens to overwhelm the scattered members of the McPhalan, Ashida, and Morales clans. Alliances fray, relationships dissolve, divisive secrets are revealed, and promises are broken as the members of three California families struggle to salvage their shattered dreams. The story follows the character’s journeys to places as distant as Cleveland, Ohio, Venice, Italy, and Kyoto, Japan. From the concert halls of Europe to the artist’s lofts of Manhattan, American River: Currents is filled with passionate and resolute characters who refuse to let go of their unique visions of success—even as life’s tumultuous currents threaten to sweep them all away.
Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website
In the mid-1800s, three immigrant familiesIrish, Japanese, and Mexicansettle along the American River in Northern California. A century later, only one family remains.
Owen McPhalans Mockingbird Valley Ranch is still a thriving family business in 1959. But when his wife, Marian, leaves Mockingbird to follow her dream of becoming a successful artist, she ignites a firestorm that impacts the descendants of all three families. As artists, musicians, writers, and politicians inherit their immigrant parents hopes, they are torn apart by ambition, prejudice, and deception while struggling through the turbulent 1960s. From the concert halls of Europe to Kyotos ancient avenues, and Manhattans artists lofts to San Franciscos North Beach, they each learn the price they must pay in order to realize their dreams. But just as the river is drawn to the sea, they eventually find themselves pulled back to the place that forged the original link between their destiniesa place called Mockingbird.
American River: Tributaries follows three California families as the descendants of Irish, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants embark on unique journeys to pursue their dreams amid an unsettled 1960s world.
Posted in Interviews
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