Author Taylor Darks On Life At FAMU And Book Career

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To say that connecting  with Taylor Darks is a pleasure is an understatement. It’s an honor to meet a young lady that’s so multi-faceted. She’s the true embodiment of the creed of being “More Than An Athlete”! Recently, Taylor graduated from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University with a degree in Sociology. Before she graduated, I got the chance to speak with her about her life at FAMU and her entrepreneurial grind!

Randall: Thank you so much for allowing me to do this interview! Truly an honor! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Taylor: I am a fourth year sociology major, graduating this semester on May 4th , 9:00am. I am a student Athlete, I play women’s basketball for FAMU. I am a member of the REAL Beta Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority incorporated, and the president of Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society. I am also the author of two books. My first book is, Caged a Poetic Collection of the African American Experiences is being used as part of the curriculum for FAMU’ Sociology department. My second book is Wash Day, a children’s book about self-love and the acceptance of black girls, their natural hair and who they truly are.

 

Randall: How was your high school career?

Taylor: High school was “High school”. I’m still an introvert, but I do a lot of extrovert stuff, doesn’t make any sense. I played three varsity sports: Basketball, Track, and Soccer. I won a conference championship and player of the year my junior year in high school. I won the New Balance National Championship in track my sophomore year as well in the 800m Sprint Medley. I just remember laying on the ground in that 100 degree heat and my teammates screaming that we won, but I couldn’t breathe so they had to celebrate without me for a sec. Soccer what great too. I remember scoring this big time goal against Ursiline I believe and the like people in the crowd were screaming “Taylor Gang”. It was hilarious. I was prom queen for like two years, wouldn’t even go on stage the first I was scared to stand up there. I just remember getting in the car and casually saying, “Mom, I won Prom Queen” and my mom like looks at me then my date then the crown and them immediately called every relative I know. So lots of extrovert things that kind of just happened. My high school years were all sports but I think college has allowed me to really focus on my other talents.

 

Randall: How’d you end up at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University?

Taylor: I Transferred from Furman University after my freshman year and FAMU just sort of happened. FAMU was a blessing I didn’t even know I needed and that came to me when I least expected it. I was transferring for basketball but after seeing this campus, the students, the faculty, I realized there was so much more I was missing. It brought me out my shell, and allowed me to dive into my creativity in a way I never would have expected.

 

Randall: What’s your major? What made you choose that major? What do you want to do after graduation with that degree?
Taylor: My major is Sociology. I chose Sociology mainly because I want to help people but I want to understand how the system of racism and oppression work. I feel like when you can understand your oppressor or the system you can effectively dismantle it. I wanted to soak up as much as I can to help as many as I can.

 

Randall: Let’s talk about your college experience! I want to go through your first few years at . How was your:

 

  • Freshman Year?

 

Definitely still in my shell. I was still at Furman University and major wise I had no idea. I did business, like everyone does at first. I considered graphic design, I love art, but unfortunately the only pretty image I can create is imagery through my poetry so that didn’t work. Then I thought about journalism when I came to FAMU but ultimately it was Sociology that stole my heart.

 

  • Sophomore Year?

 

This is the year I came to FAMU. I just loved it. I felt at home. I remember going to my first football game and my teammate just starts doing the Rattler Strike with the band, and it was like surreal, and so confusing at the same. It was like, “Wow, this is what I was missing”.

 

  • Junior Year?

 

I published Caged the fall of my junior year. It was nerve racking I really wasn’t sure people would like it or if it would sell. But when I got the proof in the mail I lit up with joy and fell in love with it. My dad said to me, “You can sell one copy, even just to yourself but it’s the initiative you took to make it happen that is the most important thing”

  • Senior Year?

A blur, to say that least. I don’t know what is going on lol. I’m all over the place doing everything, doing what I love, writing books, gaining exposure things are going good. My main goal is to keep building my brand as an author, Graduate on M ay 4th at 9am and finish out strong. There is so much more to come.

 

Randall: One thing I discuss in my book A Queen’s Pain is campus politics and the social environment at HBCU’s. In the book, the main character Raynetta Duram has a warped sense of what popularity is. She sees popularity and “clout” as being Greek (specifically a member of the Rho Eta sorority on Laketon State’s campus) and holding a title. In your opinion, what truly defines popularity?

Taylor: That’s a hard question. I think popularity isn’t always having your name out there but what you are doing out there. Most people don’t know my name I’m just “The girl with the book”. But most people seem to know me by what I do In the community and on FAMU campus.

 

Randall: Does popularity on campus and success go hand-in-hand?

Taylor: Not at all. Honestly, save the wallflowers. I’m a wallflower and what I learned is that you have no idea what people are capable. That girl or guy you look past everyday could be doing amazing things. Don’t be so quick to judge just because they aren’t Greek, or play a sport or have a crowd. Appreciate the people that are individuals and strong in their own right. Their story is just as valuable, if not more valuable.

 

Randall: How’d you rise to prominence at FAMU?’

Taylor: I’m not sure I’m up there yet. But, honestly by making connections. Something as simple as talking in class, talking to my professors after class, being nice and genuine to people and grinding have seemed to work for me. That may be because my main goal is to excel in academia and in school wise. It’s crazy, through this crowdfunding I’ve realized so many people have been rooting for me. People who I’ve helped out, or talked with, or who have helped me, really want to see me succeed and its amazing. Kindness can go a long way.  

 

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    1. Tell us about your books!

 

  • Wash Day
  • What is it about?

 

Taylor: Wash Day is about a little game named Nina and her mom. Nina is, of course, running around the house avoiding her Wash Day. But the goal of this book is to try to normalize natural hair maintenance. Too often its considered too hard, or unrealistic, but it’s a part of who we are.

 

  • How did you come up with the idea for the book?

 

Taylor: I thought about my own hair process and how much that book would have helped me. It’s funny if you look at the book it’s actually a realistic hair routine with the famous protective style at the end. That one just came from memories.

 

  • What is the message that you want to send?

 

Taylor: “Love the hair your wear” I know it’s scary but that curly, kinky, beautifulness that they tell you is inappropriate or unprofessional is the definition of perfect. How is me being who I am inappropriate. Be yourself. Make them make a space for you don’t fit into their spaces, or into the box they want to put you in. We BOX braids not personalities, and most certainly not hair.

      1. Caged: A Poetic Collection of the African American Experience

 

  • What is it about?

 

Taylor: Caged: A Poetic Collection of the African American Experiences is about the experiences that we go through as a people in a creative and figurative form of poetry. The goal is to drive deep beyond our experiences and put ourselves in our ancestors shoes and understand how their experiences connect without own.

 

  • How did you come up with the idea for the book?

 

Taylor: Caged is from my life long experiences, and my desire to learn more about the black experience. I wanted those who read it to have a different approach, as a opposed to a textbook to digest the African American experiences.

 

  • What is the message that you want to send?

 

Taylor: I have a quote at the beginning of the book it says

 

Like any feast, this is not meant to be eaten in one bite. It is meant to be tantalized, tasted and appreciated thoroughly. Although it seems small, do not allow your eyes to become too big for your stomach, this is no snack. It is a meal, and it is meant to be digested slowly.”

 

Take your time reading it, there is more to these poems and this message than you think

 

Randall: Tell us about your newest project The Fluffy Adventures of FroMo that you’re crowdfunding for? (Update: Taylor has secured the funds since we completd this interview and the book will be releasing this summer!)

Taylor: The Fluffy Adventure of FroMo is so much fun for me. I loved writing it, talking about the design and coming up with characters. I just want this book to be the best it can be. The crowdfunding is for the editing/storyboard, marketing and all the technical stuff that will make my work worthwhile and really let kids dive into this super universe.

 

Monique (FroMo) is super all on her own, she really gets herself and loves who she is. Especially her hair, which is her whole essence. As black woman we are so wrapped up in our hair, its maintenance, its style, and FroMo really uses it to her advantage—mainly cause he parents won’t let her use any of their high tech superhero stuff.

 

Randall: What’s next for you?

Taylor: I will be pursuing my PhD in Sociology at Florida State. With basketball ending I hope to start a podcast and start some programs for student athletes to help with their career goals and stepping outside of the “Shut up and Dribble” mindset.

 

Randall: Where can we find you on social media?

Taylor: My Instrgam is @tb_darks and my account for The Fluffy Adventures of FroMo @fromo_offical

 

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