D. Watkins is a professor at the University of Baltimore as well as a columnist for Salon. His collection of essays, The Beast Side, explores his past as a youth involved in the drug trade, losing family and friends to crime and jail, and eventually his path out into college, writing, and teaching. In their conversation, Watkins tells Robert Scheer about the impact his book has had on young African-Americans who were not used to reading books about people like themselves. Watkins also discusses his conflicting feelings about gentrification and why he believes it is his responsibility to stay in Baltimore and share his experiences and skills with people in his community.
Photo: Aaron Maybin