What is your book, Back to Dixie, about?
Back to Dixie explores how a government’s race policies can either uplift or oppress, as experienced through the lives of everyday Black people over 10 tumultuous years when the political pendulum swung far left to extreme right. In the early chapters of the book, the administration is unapologetically progressive, with some labeling them as liberal and even socialists. They were remembered for passing the SCALE Act for Social Justice in 2023, making good on a campaign promise to address systemic racism as a top priority.
SCALE was widely considered the most positively impactful law for Black Americans since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Because of this, though, it had many passionate opponents who quickly repealed it when they came into power later on in the story. The new administration also passed laws removing key voting and civil rights from many Black and poor people, and in 2029, they signed the National Workfare Act into law.
Under the guise of job training, the government rounded up millions of the country’s citizens, stripping them of their freedom and forcing them to work long and hard only to survive – their lives demonstrated to mean little. Michael Dobson and his friends Devin Thomas and Odessa Bradford risk everything in an attempt to save their family and loved ones from the clutches of Workfare, and find a way to be free once more.
That is both frightening and intriguing. Where did you get the idea?
The idea of Back to Dixie came in the nineties when an urban legend ran rampant in Black communities. It said that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 only temporarily gave Black people the right to vote, and would need to be extended by Congress in 2008. If not extended, Black people would no longer enjoy the privilege of voting.
Though I found out it was just a rumor, the story idea was so compelling that I knew I would have to write the book one day. I just didn’t know that it would be almost 25 years later!
Were you influenced by recent events in writing Back to Dixie?
Back to Dixie’s dedication reads, ‘For those with no voice, but truths to tell.’ That’s there because I didn’t have room on the page to list the names of all those whose voices are forever silenced by racism. The deaths, the marches, the arrests, the acquittals, and the reactions certainly influenced me to finally write a book I’ve only dreamt about for so long.
I hope the story serves as a reminder of the kind of damage that the disease of racism can cause if left to fester and grow. I would be thrilled if it becomes a part of a wakeup call for society, providing another reminder of the importance of valuing each other, especially those who are different—that is the way we all win.
Who is the book for?
The book is for everybody. Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, any race. Liberal, conservative, progressive, any political party. It’s for people who believe systemic racism is one of the country’s biggest problems, just as much as it is for those who don’t think it’s a real thing. Ultimately, I want Back to Dixie to be part of a conversation on American race relations that needs to happen more and more throughout the country.