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Hello, my name is David

My Story

My dissertation was on the formation of slave identity though resistance and rebellion during the colonial era. I argued that enslaved people were not simply victims, but were savvy social negotiators who manipulated their owners by intentionally moving along sliding scales of the loyalty that slaveowners invested in them. But that academic journey was only a step along a path struggling for social justice. That path began in 2006, when I began organizing street festivals in the Silverlake area of East Los Angeles. During that time, I was also a volunteer tutor at South Central Los Angeles' Amassi Project. At that point, I felt like I knew what I wanted to do, but I did not have any credentials people would take seriously. Soon after, one of my professors suggested I get a Ph.D. I knew that many of the professors I had read about often used their position to accomplish their social justice objectives. Howard Zinn was a particular inspiration, in that he did not seem particularly interested  in maintaining any particular job teaching, as long as he had an opportunity to radicalize people. That completely changed how I saw my job. My occupation was teaching my students, but my vocation became radicalizing my students. It was only gravy that the state itself paid me to de-indoctrinate its young people.

I began a Facebook group as an attempt to directly interact with adults about the same topics I was teaching to young people. I had been teaching my Strength Through Cultural Diversity class at Miami University -- Middletown class for a few years at that point, and I had crafted a very coherent message and presentation about identity and race in America. So the Facebook group was the perfect forum to both educate and reconnect with all of the people I had grown up with, but had never had the chance to have in my classroom. It was a great experience, and gave me the courage to create my "Cultural Diversity in America" online series. These were paid lectures, which lasted on Saturdays for two and a half hours. I felt very encouraged by their success and that regular Americans were willing to take the time to engage with topics like this. But that experience highlighted to me to how uninformed most Americans were about the political processes that led them to live where they lived and think the way they thought about other races. The large number of people telling me they wished they had learned this in school proved to me the need for a site like this. I taught American public school. I know they were not taught these subjects there.

Around 2018 I also began working with the Jacksonville social justice organization 904WARD, particularly with their initiative the Jacksonville Community Remembrance Project. For the past five years the JCRP has been dedicated to documenting the cases of racial terror lynching in Jacksonville and holding commemoration ceremonies in which they collect soil from these sites to honor the victims. The JCRP also began sponsoring bus trips to the Legacy Museum in Montgomery Alabama, where the Equal Justice Initiative has been collecting the gathered soil. As part of the initiative, I began JCRP's oral history project, documenting the experiences of some of Jacksonville's community elders who still had recollections of the of the terror-lynching era. I now serve on the 904WARD Board of Directors.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and became the Assistant Editor at Westways Magazine. My goal in becoming a journalist was to merge my desire to be a writer with my desire to right social wrongs. I did so for seven years, at one time helming two national magazines as editor in chief before the age of 30. But my career in journalism floundered during the dotcom bust of 2001. A startup magazine / web site that I headed busted, and I craved a chance to have a more direct impact on society. So began my teaching career. At the same time I pursued a career as a Hollywood screenwriter. But mostly I worked as a substitute teacher in East  and South Central Los Angeles for twelve years while writing and shopping around three screenplays. 

Once I finished my Ph.D. I attempted to get my dissertation published, first with the University of Georgia Press, then with the University of Cincinnati Press, then with the University of Rochester Press. After initially showing interest, each decided not to publish. I remain interested in the book world, however, as it has had a hold on me since a child. Books that have had a profound influence on my writing sensibility include: Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and How to Make Love to a Negro by Dany LaFerriere. Books that have influenced me intellectually include: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, The Making of the Counter-Culture by Theodore Roszak, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon and Moving the Centre by Ngugi va Thiongo. 


Currently I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from UCLA, a Master of Arts in History from Cal State University--Los Angeles, and a Doctor of Philosophy in African Diaspora History from Indiana University.  Even though I am considered a resistance scholar, I am primarily interested in creating community dedicated to effecting global change through the promotion of justice and freedom for all living things. So I consider myself a "freedom scholar." I am originally from Queens, New York, but I currently reside in Jacksonville, Florida, where I am the Assistant Professor of History at Edward Waters University, Florida's first HBCU.

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