Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Alycee Lane. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Alycee Lane and I’m from Buffalo, New York.
Nice, I’ve been to New York once. What is the most annoying habit that you have?
I laugh loudly at my own jokes, including the ones I tell in my own head.
Lol. What was your childhood dream?
My childhood dream was to be a doctor who would cure cancer. That dream ended when, at the age of six, I was spanked vigorously for having poured my secret cure into my mother’s milk at the dinner table.
Oh wow. You rebel you. What skill would you like to master?
I really would like to master playing the saxophone, but I’d actually have to learn how to play the saxophone.
Lol. I love it. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
I think it would be amazing to venture off to Antarctica. On the other hand, I left Buffalo, New York for a reason (spoiler: it wasn’t because of buffalo wings).
Speaking of wings, what’s your favorite food?
Anything with pork, which is why being a vegetarian, is pretty damn hard.
Oh Alycee. That was not the right answer. Anything but pork! Don’t do it lol. What kind of music do you like?
I can’t get enough of jazz and blues.
What do you wish you knew more about?
Black holes. The idea of them really blows my mind.
In your own words, define racism.
Voting for Donald Trump.
LOL. What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?
FOX NEWS. FOX NEWS. FOX NEWS. FOX NEWS. FOX NEWS. FOX NEWS.
Are you religious Alycee?
Yes. I attend Bedside Baptist every Sunday (this is one of those moments when I am laughing at my own joke).
Rofl. You are a trip. Let’s talk about my favorite subject. How long have you been writing? Tell us a little bit about the journey thus far.
I have been writing earnestly since 2012, though I had written some academic papers before then. A few months before my dad died in 2010, he asked me, “when are you going to write?” He knew it was my life aspiration. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that, in my mind, I had decided to let that dream go. I was done. When I reflect on that moment, I’m inclined to believe that, on some spiritual level, he did know that I had given up. Those who are facing death often see and know things quite clearly. And if they’re your parents…well, then they see through you as well. I remember shrugging, in that way children do when they’ve been caught. The question bothered me enough that, two years later, when my mother’s health began to fail, I was writing like crazy.
In some ways, then, my writing has been a journey through grief, as well as a return to who I really am – the person whom my father clearly knew and saw. For that reason, the journey has also been a powerful one.
That’s powerful. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer?
The most difficult thing about being a writer is keeping a muzzle on the little critic who sits on my shoulder and pretends to be my muse. The most exciting thing is creating that perfect sentence, the one that sounds right.
“Once I was willing to step out of the closet and be completely vulnerable – to expose myself knowing that I could very well become (even more) an object of hate and of violence from people who looked like me and from those who didn’t– once I allowed myself to be that raw, I became absolutely and devastatingly powerful.”
Why is writing important to you?
I don’t know. It is. I think I would talk too much if I didn’t write. Or –or, I would finally learn how to play the sax.
I understand that you specialized in African American literature and culture of the civil rights and black power movements. You also explore political issues through the prism of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence. I love the Panthers as well as Dr. King. What attracted you to this kind of work? Can you tell us a little bit about your inspirations?
Okay, so not the easiest questions for someone who’s spent the whole day with a five-year-old.
Lol. Answer the question Alycee!
I come from a very political family, so I naturally gravitated toward studying the literature and culture of the CR/BP movements (plus, I am old enough to remember the Free Angela Davis movement, and I used to shout “Black Power” out of my school bus window while being bused across town. To this day, I remember the “White Power” sign that hung from one of the houses I passed every day to get to my integrated school).
So, my main inspirations were my parents, as well as my brothers and sister. Then there were my professors at Howard University, mainly Patricia Jones Jackson and Claudia Tate, from whom I took Howard’s first Black Women Writers class. I went to Howard intending to matriculate for law school and ended up leaving there with a Ph.D. on my mind. Good teachers can do that to you. Also among my influencers: Valerie Smith, Richard Yarborough, and Kim Crenshaw.
Oh, yeah: Toni Morrison, Barbara Smith, Alice Walker, Gloria Anzaldua, Cheri Moraga, Audre Lorde, Sweet Honey in the Rock, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone. Countless women I have loved and who have loved me.
With regards to my blog writing: an “ex” did me two favors. The first was gifting me a collection of King’s work. The second was keeping a copy of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step in her bookcase. Reading both radically changed this deconstructionist’s heady, cynical life. Having said that, I like to think that I arrived at this place of a commitment to nonviolence and engaged Buddhist practice through the influence of the Panthers, Fanon, Malcolm X, and others.
Now, my five-year-old is my main inspiration. Every day she teaches me how much work I have to do. There’s nothing more humbling than having someone who has been on earth for merely 1800+ days tell you that you don’t know anything about nothin’. Just plain dumb.
If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be?
My superpower would be this: I would make men cry simply by showing them the hand. Why this power? Because I suspect that much of the world’s violence can be attributed to the fact that too many men are unable to cry, to live from the heart, to be vulnerable, to be tender.
What genre do you write in, why?
I primarily write nonfiction, though I suspect this is a cop-out. I don’t know – I’m kind of with Arandati Roy on this: these are not the times for fiction.
I disagree, there is always a time for Fiction!
Alycee, thank you for spending this time with us! We enjoyed you.
Alycee Lane is an Oakland, California-based writer and blogger.
A graduate of Howard University, Alycee studied English literature and later obtained her Doctorate of Philosophy from UCLA, where she specialized in African American literature and culture of the civil rights and black power movements. From 1995 to 2003, she served as an Assistant Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, after which she obtained her Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley (Boalt Hall).
Alycee is author of the award-winning book, Nonviolence Now! Living the 1963 Birmingham Campaign’s Promise of Peace (Lantern Books, 2015) as well as the blog Coming in From the Cold, where she explores political issues through the prism of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence. Her newest work, The Wretched of Mother Earth: The Handbook for Living, Dying, and Nonviolent Revolution in the Midst of Climate Change Catastrophe, was just published on April 4, 2018.
Alycee has also written a number of scholarly and other articles on subjects ranging from the Black Panther Party to mitigation evidence in death penalty cases to climate change. In 1993, she was awarded the Audre Lorde Quill Award from the Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum for the essays and interviews that she produced for BLK, a news magazine dedicated to the African American gay and lesbian community, as well as for her work as editor of Black Lace, the first ever African American lesbian erotic magazine.
Be Sure to Follow this Author Online:
Amazon page: amazon.com/author/alyceelane