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4Apr

M.K. Asante on CNN African Voices

M.K Asante, I dare say he is one knowledgeable young man. I appreciate his perspective on being able to celebrate your history. Personally, I think that’s important…to know where you are from and what your history entails because that’s one aspect of life that helps to shape and it gives a grounding you can never forget. When you know where you are from, there is a sense of belonging and you accept who you are even when those around you don’t. His confidence is admirable and there are a lot of young men, who can learn a few lessons from his story. There are hundreds people with a story like Asante’s but we don’t always hear them. The ones we hear, we should listen, take the lessons and run with them.

Don’t you just love it when teachers see something in you/us that others don’t notice or pick up on? Asante’s story is another reason we must appreciate our teachers. He may have spent most of his life in the US, though he was born in Zimbabwe but I think there are universal truths to his story. Country of birth is simply location but we can always relocate in our minds and find our truths across the ocean and make the change we desire in our lives. Bottom-line, you can do whatever you want to do with your life. There are no limits. You are the only one who can limit yourself when you put barriers in front you. I don’t deny there are life hurdles and challenges we must all overcome. However, you have to figure it out, one way or another and get on with it because when you have got it bad like that…you have to ask, how in the hell can I get out of here?

At 23, Asante became a professor, this is one dope professor and I would not mind sitting in his class. Learning has nothing to do with age. When you meet someone, who knows what you don’t know, you best shut up, sit down, listen and learn.  Asante says he has always been inspired by examples. What inspires you? Enjoy watching and feel free to leave your thoughts.





Story: As a disruptive teenager, M.K. Asante was expelled from school on more than one occasion.

Yet today, as an award-winning writer, filmmaker and professor, he’s welcomed back in classrooms around the world.

A master storyteller, Zimbabwe-born Asante is a major creative force. He’s written a number of books, as well as three movies, including 2008’s “The Black Candle,” which was narrated by American poet Maya Angelou.

Only 29 years old, Asante has also embarked on a mission to make art more accessible to younger generations.

As a tenured professor of creative writing and film at Morgan State University in Baltimore, he leads classrooms of students, many of whom are close to him in age, using language they can understand.

“When I come into school, I keep it real with my students,” Asante says. “I use examples that they understand, we talk about things that are relevant in contemporary society,” he adds.

Having a troubled past

“I want to show them this is what a professor can look like. You know what I mean? Yeah, I write books, you can write books too,” Asante says.

“Whether you wear a bow tie or not has nothing to do with your intellectual rigor or whatever, it’s irrelevant — it’s really about your ideas and what you bring to the table.”

Having a troubled past

“I want to show them this is what a professor can look like. You know what I mean? Yeah, I write books, you can write books too,” Asante says.

“Whether you wear a bow tie or not has nothing to do with your intellectual rigor or whatever, it’s irrelevant — it’s really about your ideas and what you bring to the table.”

His life’s journey got off to a rocky start while growing up in Philadelphia — he was kicked out of his private school when he was 12 and then was sent to two public schools where he continued to get into trouble by being disruptive and fighting.

But Asante’s life took a major turn when he was 16 when he joined a creative writing class and was encouraged by his teacher to write about anything he wanted. He says that this was something he’d never been told before at school.

“I tested her at first — I wrote a couple of curse words at first just to see if she was serious about this,” he recalls.

“And she looked at it and said ‘good.’ And I was like, ‘OK, this is crazy!’ So I take the pen and my hand starts shaking because I get overwhelmed with this feeling about what I’m gonna write.”

Asante says that defining moment changed his life forever, triggering his love for writing.

“There were so many other things going on at that same time — I had gotten arrested, I had a very close friend of mine, Little Chris, who got murdered by gun violence in Philly, my brother was incarcerated, people were dying and it was sad,” Asante says.

“And that was one of the things I was writing about. I felt like I had an obligation to those things and I had to write about them in a way that was inspiring and empowering so other people wouldn’t go there.”

He published his first book, a collection of poems called “Like Water Running Off My Neck,” when he just 20 years old. He followed up his debut with “Beautiful and Ugly Too” in 2005 and then “It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop” in 2008.

Asante made his film debut in 2005 when he wrote and produced “500 Years,” a film about the effects of slavery and colonialism on people of African descent that went on to win five awards on the international film festival circuit.

His latest film, “Motherland,” won Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival last year.

Despite his success, Asante isn’t slowing down. He says he wants his art to reach as many people as possible.

“I like to do things on a big level and continue to take things to a higher level because for me if you’re going to be serious about art and serious about the work you’re making, you have to also be serious about making sure it reaches people,” he says.

“If I’m going to investing my energy and time on something that I think is really important, I want millions and billions to read it and have access to it.”

As Culled from CNN, African Voices

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2 Responses to “M.K. Asante on CNN African Voices”

  1. Sara Chim says:

    I saw this on CNN and was inspired as well. The energy was so positive and I too would like to sit in on a class of his. He has a website as well http://www.mkasante.com … thank you for posting this Belinda. Be well

  2. Belinda Otas says:

    You are welcome Sara. Positive energy for sure, the world needs some more of that right now. Take care

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