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Rising Stars: Meet Bry Reed

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bry Reed.

Hi Bry, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m a 24-year-old writer and scholar from Baltimore, MD who grew up understanding that the people we love in this life, our loved ones, are essential to who we are. From an early age, I’ve had the immense pleasure of being loved by people who value kindness, honesty, and the safety of Black children above a lot of other things. My mother and grandmothers, on my maternal and paternal side, exemplify that for me.

My mother raised me right off North Avenue and my early life–going to the library, playing musical instruments, and listening deeply to my elders–really shaped my own values. I appreciate great books, expressive art, and Black history so deeply because my family never missed an opportunity to show me these things. They connected with organizations and institutions early on to make sure that I and my cousins had the opportunity to be children. In high school, I connected with Writers in Baltimore Schools while reading the work of Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison at Baltimore City College.

The lessons I was learning while reading these Black literary legends helped me understand that I loved the power of writing and expression. From there I went on to Davidson College in North Carolina where I continued to meet people, friends, professors, and mentors (sometimes a combination of the 3) who continue to help me understand the role of writers and cultural workers in Black communities.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Do smooth roads exist? The yellow brick road was smooth in theory, but it wasn’t easy for Dorothy and them either. My life hasn’t been a smooth road. I’ve experienced deep grief and tragic loss since I was a child. In high school, I lost 3 loving elders in 3 years back to back due to medical apartheid and the ways Black communities aren’t offered attentive health care.

Living in a city where poor and working-class Black children are hyper-criminalized, surveilled, and neglected doesn’t allow anybody’s life to be a smooth road. Navigating Baltimore City’s politics, electoral and beyond, is a struggle. So often Black children and young adults in Baltimore are given the choice to serve the State, by criminalizing and neglecting communities, or we’re criminalized ourselves.

It’s a rock and a hard place with fatal consequences. My own experiences, and the experiences of other poor and working-class people throughout the city, shaped my principles as a writer, scholar, and community member.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a writer and scholar who’s driven to do cultural work rooted in the Black Radical Tradition. I specialize in writing essays, some of which have been featured in publications like the newly revived Baltimore Beat, and curating community events that allow community members to connect to organizations doing critical work with Black community care as a pivotal focus.

As far as written work, I’m really proud of myself for being committed to writing about my family history. My family isn’t full of celebrities, rich people, or politicians. We’re Black folks from Baltimore descended from Gullah Geechee folks and these geopolitical contexts (Baltimore from the 20th century on and South Carolina before that) are important.

I’m excited to be a young Black writer exploring the diasporic histories and how those histories shape political commitments. Being a Black person from Baltimore writing honestly about the structural violence that continues to impact our daily lives sets me apart from others who continue to neglect these realities.

We all have different ways of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
A classic question! Success for me would be being able to have secure housing, a garden overflowing with sunflowers and herbs, and being deeply connected to those I love. I don’t aspire to a certain dollar amount in the bank or any specific award (though Morrison did set the bar high with the Nobel for literature).

I want to cook amazing meals in a beautiful kitchen and write alongside a great team. I’m 24 and have accomplished a lot in my young life already. From here on out, I want to build a lovely life where I can call my mother every day and laugh without fear of houselessness or hunger.

Contact Info:


Image Credits

Nate Nido and Davidson College

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1 Comment

  1. Bryant Henly

    August 22, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    Love the interview.

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