tv Michael Arceneaux I Dont Want to Die Poor CSPAN April 26, 2020 10:00pm-10:48pm EDT
tonight's event is part of our brand-new virtual event series we are excited to continue the work of the writers during these unprecedented times every week we are hosting events here and like always this schedule will appear online and check for updates through e-mail. on monday is our next event discussing the latest book some assembly required. decoding 4 billion years of life from dna. this evening's event will conclude in time for your questions if you like to ask the speaker something go to ask the question button we will get there as many as time allows also at the bottom of the screen you will see a link to purchase your copy at want to die poor all links support harvard book store thank you for your generosity during the
time your contributions make this possible and now more than ever to ensure the future of independent bookstores thank you for joining us here at the virtual space. we appreciate your support now and always. now i'm so pleased to introduce my speakers the author of the celebrated new york times best-selling essay collection currently the voice that twitter previously writer at large for new york magazine other writings have been published in the new york times during the time magazine and other numerous publishing so we will be discussing his newest book "i don't want to die poor" an essay collection
at the rave review of the book to be specific trauma of financial insecurity and essays as relatable as prescient and then to form of life among the most pernicious. the proclaimed author observing how quietly he leads those to our own embassy forcing us to examine in the world and making it increasingly difficult we are so delighted to host this event tonight without further ado. >> so my first question is you wrote a book that people love it was critically acclaimed, new york times bestseller, all that stuff, what went on in your head that
you thought let's try to do it again? is that terrifying? are you trying to meet expectations or do you think i want to write books plural? >> if i knew that i would've done it a lot sooner but i had a vision of my life and career but specifically but i knew so then you consume a lot of media in your very clear and you can tell but i just didn't want to write the same boring
i just didn't know i was writing a book deal but then i got to write the book that i wanted to and so that i could do this. then i had another idea of the trilogy but we will see. i know. >> is difficult in this economy. >> writing about something like student loans that haunts you and you can never get too far away from the process but the process of writing about it equal part triggering and therapeutic? but for me someone that has
the student loan debt. >> i am resigned i have accepted unless something crazy happens in my life but to deal with it head on what was that process like? to have to think about it yorty thinking about it a lot but then just deciding to write about it? does that add to the stress? >> know that's why i write about it. i wasn't say content but i just never had an option.
so i had no choice. generally i don't talking about money your death or admitting but i knew everything that i needed to write it. i knew it had been more revealing than anything and talking about money is far more personal. but because frankly as it outlines in the book, a lot of things that happened it was a nightmare to write it and then
live it but honestly right now is the fragility of the situation and how much of it is out of your control or no matter how much you get a little bit ahead if you don't have a financial base. >> and that is just in the book but mostly it's a pain i just needed to get it done. >> that's the way it was. >> something that was super interesting to read i don't even know if i have totally fully unpacked but that connection between the decision of your late teens and early twenties and that
lingering shame. it is kind of crazy a lot of people talk about college it's one of the big decisions of your life that it is the romanticized version. where you go, the campus determines a lot, but also the other part which is the financial thing that a lot of times as an 18 -year-old is deciding not always unilaterall unilaterally, but you don't really know what you are getting yourself into. especially if you come from a family where money is not a casual thing there is not a slush fund. >> so what is so interesting that would relate to a lot of people. >> because i didn't grow up with a lot of money but my mom
had us provided for but i didn't realize i was the only one going to college i was the first one so yes you're going that was always the presumption i didn't realize it was a big deal but i know you don't make a lot of money at first but what no one could know is what the market imploded and then i graduated when that happened and then the great recession so that time there is virtually no jobs. but while also i did not completely know but that i did a lot. i didn't have blinders.
so much of what i thought existed would not be there anymore. and that i was born in the 1980s but this is all kind of tied together then to be all under 40 that's the stuff nobody could know. but the shame i don't want to feel like i was letting my mom down she literally did not think that with that's the largest point of the book for the things that are not fair with the financial stuff because really it is you going against the system. >> yes. we'll take a quick pause. "i don't want to die poor" there is a button on the bottom if you like to have the
conversation. it is a good title part of your book cover. >> i love the cover. >> fantastic. >> i think it is the second chapter in the book if you haven't read it but i do want to talk about it is you talk about reality tv which is funny but it wasn't referenced in that chapter but there is a point when we were on camera. [laughter] yes we were. so moving on that did remind me of something to go with the
idea to turn down the wrong many. like if you are in a position you don't have a lot of money in your account and you know about the loans that float over your head and never disappear then the opportunity shows up you are out of point where any money is changing money and then to say no is a particular type and a delusion in your own long game the are built into your own head with no idea if that will actually pan out. so just talk me through with that process is like. it is something i think about a lot and i have seen people take but i am jealous of them
but this is what you were talking about from the real housewives of atlanta to talk about that. >> i was trying to do a lot of different things but with those niche cultural references but in my case that year i add that part of the book because it was distracted but there is something that happened to me professionally that was out of my control but i was fortunate all through the trajectory of my career because one media that outlet in particular owed me a lot of
money. but the thing was i truly believe i think it is important but i had to figure my own way. but if i thought maybe it was a means to an end, then sure but ultimately we review that. and as i write in the book and then that you don't even know but then you go into a television meeting and then they say that your boyfriend? but then also what applies to me because i want to show to you to that people would be
into it because i think so many people try to copy that culture and then the other shows but not really so i think is funny with the people that we all created and then you asked the show and then i am complementing it because i think it is great but the fact and that applies to me to with these black executives and not to be poor but the publishers don't value people like me. so i'm trying to speak to that i honestly just don't think it was is worth it because they
warned me so they played me it literally was not worth it. >> i will say being in the world of criticism and to take that healthy hater approach. [laughter] it does provide a certain amount of checks and balances when your life changes and i'm about to do this thing that i call courtney for five years but that is pretty much my indicator to say no. if you like coming up in the industry you want to do it your way but then you're watching people over you and
when you are just iraq twentysomething, how could you do that? the new become 33. okay. i get it but i still can't do i it. >> let's say you know they would have been crazy and unprofessional but then to think all do this but no one special. no thank you. >> yes. >> as someone that knows you, and someone who was also a black man from the south that shared a lot of cultural references when you are writing a book, something that you hope to be consumed widely , there is a world in which you tone down some of those
references? and then where you say i will not handhold basically older white people with a fifth or sixth line that when you are working with my editors and journalist what you don't know. but when you're writing this, where their moments at am i getting too referential dollars as a moment that you just want to double down? >> i never think about that. there is nothing wrong if you do. but my thought about that is i
read a bunch of stuff from people if i don't know they are talking about i will google it and figure it out. it's not that hard. i guess that comes with some consequences. but i'm not get a been to a lens it doesn't ever been to me. so ultimately not even to be antagonistic but just trust to the reader to all those people in their seventies to say i didn't quite completely understand everything are they did what i do and they looked it up and said i get it now. and then to introduce them to something. so no, i refuse to.
>> so what is the story? is there a story that you feel really that sums up but is there one story were used i will open this book and show you one story that i think will peak into the book? what is that? >> i think if i had to pick something, it would be the chapter that what i write to my mom. i cried writing that in a coffee chart one - - a coffee shop in harlem. because it was really hard to get out. i cried reading it on the audiobook. i didn't hate writing it was
and as an excuse not to do it hello someone feel about this when it comes out? as soon as an idea pops up and then to be offended by it. and it is a reminder. and then get it out and make that decision. and writing about for you how is that process better writing? i don't want to write all my personal thoughts about my life after everyone is dead. i want to write some stuff that people are alive and can see.
how has that process been for you? you are talking about people who will read it. >> i'm always cognizant of the fact you are writing your story or other people stories so it's very important and not only how much of other people's story to include if you even need to include may be they are still but there are things in hindsight and to talk about with that have added to the book? perhaps. it would have what it have been the right thing to do? know.
but in that way that could be something different. but the angle if i am talking about anybody especially my family my parents don't read my books but i'm still trying to be respectful. >> there may be stories that i have me about me that i want to tell but if the individual person if it doesn't feel right for whatever reason then they are not done. otherwise there is a larger point. >> yes. yes. for someone who feels that writing is part of their life for a long time, i think also you don't have to force
everything right then by holding onto some stuff that may be figuring out the right time to tell that story i feel that's helpful. there is something very awesome that you said at the end of the book which i think really informs why the book exists outside of the financial things that come with writing a book and that is your job, you did your job. but the idea of learning to forgive yourself that you would be on the last page of the book. but it is very interesting because i feel like my
thirties are making up for the sins of my twenties. like financial irresponsibility, and those moments it is a recession, do i go to this party? or pay my phone bill? those moments you are confronted do i do the thing i need for my mental sanity or for my financial stability. that may not always be the most responsible but then you look in the future if i would've done this then it would have been different. but also learning to be that's what you needed to do in that moment don't beat yourself down about it. it is an amazing thing for someone to read because there's a chance whoever is
reading that has be in themselves down about it. so do you find you were practicing what you preach? or do you find it hard to forgive yourself? >> so yes i really did need to believe. but i was wondering and hopefully where people pick up from that to hold them accountable but it also starts with other people and to be forgiven for things i don't need to be forgiven for.
but we are all so hard on ourselves for those that don't need to be. it doesn't matter if it's as we think we are but some even at that point i feel selfish saying that but i write about my father who died an alcoholic but then to go to go to columbia but now that was not a compromise it was actually the best choice i could have made. now to have access to a life because i wasn't around that is a black person so do i wish i hadn't taken out private loans or go another route?
and that they told me one year before. >> and virginia being home but even if you didn't have that darker past the thing that so many people all i wanted to do is to be like everybody else. and you say you can do this or do that. so no. the bigger question for me for what you would go back and change. no. what i wish i shouldn't have had to do that and people like my niece should go and even more debt to be a doctor.
hopefully after this pandemic and with the blacks and latino latinos, . >> i want to read a quotation i really appreciated. i did my due diligence to underline it i have a section of my own a very privileged it is just a bookshelf of people of my friends and their books and to say and to have all of your books but there is a quotation not related to anything but it was just very real truth to power moment that you can speak to, which i
feel it hit differently in the movement we are in right now. and it hits heavier in a moment questioning america but the quote is the chief corporate term loosely translates into if you are a full-time or but we don't want to pay you for your health insurance if you get sick try some robitussin whatever you use to treat yourself because that is not on us. that sounds basically like a quote about america. >> true to form, what is happening to me and now maybe
people will change their minds but yes. but with the great recession and you cannot control that impacts everything but then when it finally comes for me to be offered jobs those full-time positions eventually would yield money you're not going to pay for those private loans and sometimes they were doing for the contract work and then like right now to do that work and even some folks that i know now even today , one of the take away of the book that i have seen it on social media is that more often than not the matter how much you are making you are
probably being underpaid unless you are the person who is taking advantage of you. maybe you look down on me. >> and then to say to be considered. >> before we go to questions if you are watching this the two of us and what we thought it would be the worst moment of the lifetime, we wear it as a badge of honor.
to be a recession kid like a generation to itself. >> but what i will say is that if you know someone who is a college senior, give them this book because of what comes out of this book and then being forgiving to yourself, there is a lot of 20 or 21 -year-olds who enter a very similar world that we enter and there is a third level, there is no script, no one can prepare you for what's about to happen. be kind to yourself and the process happens and that comes
through in this book. instead of just trying to give advice to that 19 or 21 -year-old, tell them to pick this up. if it goes to somebody who is currently bummed out or not going to graduate her walk across the stage while trying to figure out the world, what would you tell them? >> as far as missing graduation i am so sorry. but those that have loan loans, potentially some of them may be forgiven especially for federal loans but a lot of black people but
actually what happened to me at the minimum i only got one year or two six-month deferments and that is it and i had to use those immediately. so it's fortunate if you have that option and just do the best that you can do. and frankly more than anything you can give it won't hurt you it will make you feel bad but the positive is but potentially it's like extracting try not to have bad credit because it almost killed me. i would say it's not worth it. but it seems to be reminiscent
of difficult times. but if you can deal with it right now. do the best that you can and we know that none of this is your fault. and to do the best that you can. >> the one piece that i would give thinking about my mistakes is that i think it's healthy not to pick up the phone all the time, but don't never pick up the phone. because every now and then the person on the other line is not a bad person. they are just doing their job. i spent a couple of years saying if i don't answer this phon phone, then i have to deal with it. then when i finally answered the phone, they found where i
lived, now we are at your house. metaphorically, it was for a long time it was important for me if i even start thinking about this the rest of my life will unravel. and i had to do that but at the same time at some point, get to a place to have that conversation. it will not be fun but it's better than running forever. we are not done but i wanted to add a couple of questions. >> you both can hear me? okay. so it looks like we have one question and then some
observations. so for the first question, now that you have written about religion and sexuality music and death do have any other themes for the next book? and as a follow-up he wants to know if you've ever been tempted by fiction. >> be for this one - - before this, what working in talking about death and getting older, i know. but fiction? yes. i would like to do television but i am open to fiction i have been thinking about some stuff and my other niece is 11 she wants me to write something that she can read so i should probably do that.
>> i know we are running short on time but a man which was the comment that sums up the whole feeling after this. if that is the last of the questions, we have another one. >> that's where the money sat. [laughter] >> i have thought about why a lawn - - young adult for nonfiction spirit that's all the questions we have time for right now. any closing comments or discussion points from either of you? >> thank you for making space
this is my first time. >> you've never been to boston? >> i've never been to boston. thank you for doing this and thank you for being patient and asking questions. by the book. i appreciate it. i am done. >> i just want to say that it is a beautiful world to go from blogging with no twitter to having a following to freelancing or those places that did not pay them to have multiple books out in the world. that is an awesome thing.
15161718 -year-old me. there seems to be space bar one or two black folks to talk about the world and to tell stories and i am really happy and i'm just proud of my friend. >> that's a really nice ending. [laughter] >>. >> great. i just want to take this moment to thank our wonderful speakers and all of you for spending your evening with us to support authors and our staff at harvard bookstore thank you for your patience during technical difficulties. we appreciate your support and please make sure to check out "i don't want to die poor" at the link below all links go to
the american library association cancel their conference this summer in chicago while the city's printers row lit fest will now take place in september. the l.a. times festival of books has also decided to push back their 20th annual festival to october. but tv will continue to bring new programs in publishing