DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?
I am an optimistically ambitious Washingtonian from S.C. who happens to love performing original poetry. I currently work for the Department of Commerce.
To Dive a little deeper – Born in Arizona and raised in South Carolina, Charity Blackwell is a spoken word artist who is quickly making a name for herself in the DMV. Charity started writing poetry in high school but recently began performing her work in 2015. While pursuing her undergraduate degree at Trinity University, Charity cultivated, hosted, and performed at numerous spoken-word events for her school. She currently works for the Department of Commerce and recently completed her Master’s degree at Trinity in Communications with a concentration in Leadership. (DCF: Get it girl!) She hosted the 2013, 2014, and 2015 DC SCORES Poetry SLAMS! Now a two-time host of the National SLAM! in New York City. Charity is passionate about poetry, soccer, and youth development, and she remains involved in the D.C. spoken-word scene while she completes her first book of poems.
DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?
CB: Funemployed to me means doing something you are passionate about that also brings you joy. Not happiness, but joy. Pure joy
DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?
CB: I would have to say cheerleaders. My mother and sister always gave me the most support when it came to my poetry. I can remember staying up late at night performing in front of them while they sip on their glass of wine and critiqued my work. They made me better and always pushed me to keep going.
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
CB: So many things prepared me for this but the most influential experience was church. My mother use to force me to do church readings when I was younger. I would read at least once a month. At first I did not enjoy it at all. But after a while I learned to connect with the word. I learned to feel the scripture and not just recite it. I use that same concept with my work. Everything I write is from the heart. Everything I perform, that’s a piece of me spilling out into the mic.
DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?
CB: My mother recent death has pushed me to write more than ever. Her sudden death left me with so many emotions that I needed to release. I didn’t know how to let them out. One of my professors reached out to me on Facebook and told me that I need to write. So I’ve been writing ever since. And when I write, I really go for it because tomorrow isn’t promised. (DCF: So sorry for your loss and impressed at the valuable lesson and gift you have taken from it).
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
CB: Balance to me is being able to take care of my health, be there for my family, and perform my work without falling apart. (DCF: Yasss, self care is so important.) I’m just becoming a little more balanced now. I was getting sick back to back because I wasn’t taking care of myself and putting all of my energy in my work and others. I’m doing better now since I slowed down.
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
CB: I had to cut out a lot of people that didn’t have my best interest. And it was a sacrifice because I genuinely care about these people but their missions just didn’t align with mine. But after I removed a few toxic people from my life, I made room for amazing individuals to replace them. They make me better and I feed off their energy. (DCF: A hard choice that many people are scared to make but a valuable one!)
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
CB: The great thing about the poetry community, especially here in DC, is that it is a very welcoming community. They respect your work and diversity is extremely embraced. As a black, gay, female, I don’t believe that I would get that same treatment in other industries.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
CB: I wish I would have listened to my mother about appreciating time. I think I wasted a lot of time. I didn’t get my undergrad degree until late I was 25. (DCF: Better late than never.) I have a masters now which is great but I could have and should have been done with school. I should have taken more advantage of my time in my early twenties. But I was hard headed.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
CB: One of my biggest failures was wrecking my sister’s car when I was 18/19. I was very reckless around that time and I learned from the crash that I should have been dead. I barely missed a tree. I learned that I am favored and I have a purpose. And I learned that my sister really loves me because she didn’t care about the car. She was more concerned about me being alive and healthy.
DCF: What is your proudest moment?
CB: My proudest moment so far was receiving my masters. It was during a very rough time but I was able to knock it out. I remember when my last grade posted. I was parked in my sister’s driveway. When I got out the car all I could do was cry. My sister came outside, hugged me and cried with me. That was a great moment. (DCF: I know what you mean, when they called my name for my masters, all I could do was weep.)
DCF: So what’s next??
CB: Right now I am working on a book of poems in honor of my mother. I am hosted the National Poetry SLAM in NY on April 11th. It was live streamed and you can see more info here. I am also hosting a few parties for MakersLab DC which builds and supports queer communities by creating spaces that celebrate life, art, and queer culture. I am also heavily involved with the organization Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags.
You can follow Charity Here –
Facebook: Charity Joyce Blackwell