“You have seen how a man was made a slave,” Frederick Douglass famously wrote in his autobiographical narrative. “[Y]ou shall see how a slave was made a man.”
In his latest book, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays, Jerald Walker traces a journey parallel to Douglass’s, from his days as a high school dropout drug dealer on the South Side of Chicago, to a place at the table of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the white suburb where he is raising his children and a university professorship.These powerful essays, dubbed “restless” and “brilliant” by the The New York Times, won him a coveted spot on the newspaper’s Best Books of the Year list.
Walker joins us to discuss that sojourn with his signature blend of fury and farce and to talk about the complicated legacy of Michael Jackson, getting medical care while Black, becoming more than the sum of your victimization and the struggle to break free of both personal and social stereotypes.
The author of two previous books, Walker is Professor of Creative Writing at Emerson College. How to Make a Slave and Other Essays was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award.