The thing is, when I first moved to Boston years ago and talked like that, I quickly learned that people would make snap decisions about me based on what I sounded like, basically assuming I was at the very least uneducated and uncouth. So I learned how to hide my accent. Big mistake. In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote that doing things like that is metaphorically cutting out your tongue. Years of living has taught me to embrace again who I am, and that identity comes out in a deluge in my writing. If you don't like who am I and by extension what I write about, then I suggest you just turn the page. Just move on. But I will never cut out my tongue ever again. I will never apologize for myself or my art again.
I write all this because tonight is the first class of the creative writing class I'll be teaching in during the fall semester. New writers (from day one I treat them like writers,) each one an individual and along with introducing them to structure and dialogue and characterization, if I can do anything for them it's get them to start listening to their own voices and know their own stories and get an inkling for getting those voices and stories heard. And get them to be proud of the stories they have so they don't cut out their own tongues. I start by building a classroom environment where hopefully they'll feel safe to put stuff out there and talk and listen and respond. Over time, hopefully, they will rise to a point where they will be taking artistic risks without even knowing it. By the end of the semester, I like to see their confidence reach that point where they start arguing and disagreeing with me. That's how I know they're ready to leave the nest.