A clean version of this episode of Written Off is also available:
“Silent Love.” Written by Candice Price. Performed by Keke Palmer. After years of dwelling in the silence of her survivorship, Candice is spirited and joyful, living in her truth as a proud Black queer woman.
“When I started writing, I found the way to heal from my childhood trauma. And I found a different coping skill on how to release my emotion.” – Candice Price
Find Candice on Instagram at @tazzyp86 and blkcandice on Snapchat.
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Candice Price, Walter Thompson-Hernandez, Keke Palmer
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 01:14
Before we begin, we want to warn you that today’s episode features conversations about suicidal ideation and self-harm, which may not be appropriate for all audiences. If you are someone you love needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK or 8255. You can also message the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Each service is free and available 24/7. This episode also includes explicit language. For a bleep version of the show. Visit our website, LemonadaMedia.com
Do you know the power that a hug can give someone? I’m rehabilitating trying not to catch a case. So just listen. The silence of that embrace can feel louder than anyone saying I love you all up in your face. We can find a different way to take up that space. So your heart can beat. The glove and needs to be announced to the blessing of our hips or our lips. We think the uttering of those words overpowers the touch, fingertips. Growing up, I was never protected, only rejected. So many kids were feeling the same might be blind to their worth playing this hurtful game. We can never leave a child behind in the gutter because you will only leave them in wonder if there was no protection, we can end up with no direction.
Keke Palmer 03:00
But we got a lot of young Black kings and queens who are our future. Who are waiting to receive Black love. So you need to open up your Black arms and spread them Black wings to simply care for others and uplift their spirit. You can do it silently. And you ain’t got to fear it. We can give Black love by opening our arms. So we don’t find ourselves alone behind bars. At a young age, I ended up in a cage since fifth grade. I never walk to stage, real talk. We sentence ourselves to isolation leading to humiliation all because we lack communication. But what does the world look like? Where we shatter these expectations and simply love one another. Like no other.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 04:19
I’m Walter Thompson Hernandez and this is WRITTEN OFF. You just heard actress and TV personality Keke Palmer read Silent Love by IOW alum Candice Price. Before we spoke, I saw a pop an entire packet sweet tarts into her mouth all at once. followed by another and another. That’s the thing I noticed about Candice. She has this subtle playfulness about her, and a charm. But it’s not loud. And it’s not in your face. I mean, she does have a thing about the word silence. She’s even got a tattooed on her arm. In fact, it’s a little hard to hear when she talks, her voice is soft enough that you kind of have to lean in to pick up her words. From her writing, you know, closeness wasn’t something that was granted to Candice when she was a kid. But she’s living in that space now. Also, this playfulness, it’s like the two things that she never got, that she’s finally allowing herself. And it’s hard not to love it for her. There’s tears running down your face. What’s going on Candice? What do you feel?
Like, for one, to know who read it. Like so fucking amazing. Excuse me. It’s so amazing. The way she read it, it was just like, it was like, no, it’s like, it felt like it was passionate. Like, and to be the one like the one that wrote it. But to be the one to sit back and just listen to like, this soft voice echo like off my words. Like, I’m just like, my heart, like, I’m happy. But then it’s like, the way she said it just like, let me know. Like, I’ve been through a lot. But then at the same time, I’m still here. And I survived, I overcame it, you know? Like, it was the way she read it for me like the way she delivered the message.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 07:08
What did it feel like to have someone and especially her, read what you wrote.
Like, my heart is dancing. Like, at the same time, even though the tears was like low, you know, I felt the pain from that poem. But it was like tears of joy. Like whoever thought that a celebrity, especially when I love or like read my work. So yeah. That’s nice. Now write a book and let her read it.
Hold that same energy, right?
Yeah, for sure.
Tell me about writing this poem and writing this piece. Like, where were you? What kind of place in your life were you in? The day you wrote this, like, walk me through that?
Candice Price 08:11
Alright, well, the day I wrote it. Before I came up with that poem, I wrote several different poems. And then, no, I was like, I was told to not be so dark. So then it was just like, okay, well, this is how I could balance it out, you know, by, you know, saying some words like that I heard it me, but don’t go into detail about it, just like he knows is the power like of whatever it is that you’re going to just open up big Black arms and spread them Black wings. And it’s just that oh, no, like, I feel like I do everything that I’ve been through in life is just like, I’m gonna protect her now. And I just won’t love and I just want to give love, you know, like, oh, no, I’m a revolutionary. Like, the older I get, the more I realize how worthy I am. And realize how, like, my worth, you know, so I was in a good place then a sad place, but then at the same time, I replace writing with me being suicidal. So I was about 13 years old when I found InsideOUT Writers, when I was incarcerated. And I just really wanted to get out my row for the snacks.
So what led you to the program was the snacks?
Candice Price 10:03
Yeah. They’re like snickers, chips. You know, like juice and stuff like that. In juvenile hall you really don’t get that stuff. You just get a hot tray and some milk.
So you were like, hold on, let me get these sneakers, right?
Yeah, they had me in the room. I think I messed up too. I got in trouble that week. For the weekend, they had me on my room. So then I heard also visitors coming. And every time as a visitor for sure you getting a snack. I was in central juvenile hall. And I heard that them calling for everybody. So you know, I waited, they didn’t come get me. So then I start. I started like banging on my door. Like to get out the room. So I think after the third time I banged on my door. That’s when he was like, alright, come on. So Dan, when I went in there, you know, I’ll say hi to everybody and stuff like that. Just happy to get out the room. And they’re in charge, go grab me a snack. You know the teacher was like, no, you got to write first. I’m like, write? Like, I’m not a poet, would you mean write? She like will just write whatever’s on your mind.
So I was like, I really don’t want to write. But whatever I’m thinking I’m gonna choose write. So then that’s what I did whatever I was thinking, I just wrote it. And then I read my poem, I got my snack. And I was cool. I was chilly. You know, but it was like, when I was in my living room, I was in my living room. And it was just, oh, no, I just had to switch it up. You know, because I got a lot of dark poems. And it’s like, I was sad, but not so sad. And at the same time, would leave a message. And the message is really basically to share love, you know, there’s nothing wrong with loving somebody, or opening up your arms and giving them a hug because you never know what it is that they might be going through in life, and that hug can be so powerful.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 14:06
I want to go back just a little bit and like have you really describe that scene for me? When you’re banging on the door three times and you walk outside like I want to know like, what you win, what kind of shoes you got on, what you see out there? Like people’s faces, people’s names like you know, just really like take us there.
Okay. It’s four walls, it’s the top floor, is a metal bed and there’s a […] matches probably by the inch or half inch thick. And it’s a plastic mattress with a pillow and a night gown. One cover. One sheet. Me on orange jumpsuit. There’s a sink and a toilet with hygiene products, which might be soap, toothpaste and deodorant, if they give us that. And me. So when they came, I started banging on the wall and the staff came to the door was like, “Price, Why keep banging on this door?” I told her, “let me out the room I want a snack.” They like “All right, Price. Let me see if the teacher let you come in.” So they talk to the teacher and the teachers like yes, she got enough room for me. So when I went in there, he nodded his way of everybody. You know, I was kind of popular in juvenile hall because that was like my second home.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 16:09
Okay, so you got your Snickers bar, and then you’re writing. What did you write?
The first poem I wrote was the statement to Leo.
And tell me about it.
The reason I wrote that poem is because he was, like, one of the reasons why I hated myself. And I tried to commit suicide when I was in third grade. That was the first attempt. Basically the statement to Leo was a poem that I wrote. You know, basically asking, like, how can they […] man, when he like, tried to confiscate something that ain’t even his.
Was it hard writing that poem?
Yeah, it was hard. But then I felt like it was like some type of relief. When I started writing, I found the way to heal from my childhood trauma. And I found a different coping skill. I had to release my emotion, […]. Think of ways to kill myself.
So writing became like a form, like a healthy way to cope with the trauma, right?
It became a form of medicine.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 18:00
Have you since gone back to that poem at all?
Yeah, I kinda do it, yeah.
What was it like?
Oh, just like when I started to heal, like the older I got, I started to heal. And I had to realize that in order for me to heal, then I have to forgive and to be forgiven for whatever it was that I did, or whatever trauma that was dear to me from the people who said they love me the most. And I try not to draw myself in to my past trauma and is like, I’ve been hurt so much. To the point like I don’t want to be around nothing toxic. If I feel like you’re toxic, then I need to go the other way. I need to get you out. You know, my presence and I have certain triggers, which is like one of them is like, I don’t like to be talked to reckless and crazy. So if you’re talking to me reckless and crazy, then I have flashbacks that you sound like my grandma.
And you know, I rather be at peace. My peace have been destroyed so badly is like, I beg for peace, like I do anything that I have to do to have my peace, even if it’s to go isolate myself somewhere and not, you know, be around the negativity. But it’s like, after sweeping so much like, shut up under the rug, and like act them like oh, and nothing happened or I’m good when deep down inside I know, like I still got that childhood trauma, there are certain things had triggers. So I try not to and I don’t want to go back to that little kid like that mind frame or that little kid of having that childhood trauma of, you know, who’s gonna protect me? Or who’s after me? Or who’s going to do this? And, you know, it’s just like, I got it. Got it, like a little defensive. You know?
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 21:17
The role of writing today in your life? Are you still writing?
Yeah, I still write. I started actually, I started to work on a little book. So while I’m trying to put everything together, I still love writing, like, especially when I have emotions to get off. Like, that’s another way to release my emotion is just expressing myself through my words and writing on my paper, on the notes on my phone and talking to them expressing the way I feel, knowing that they aren’t gonna talk back. You know, so, like, I love writing, I still love writing.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 22:08
There’s a part in your poem here. Where you write about Black arms and Black wings, and eventually you write about Back love. What does that mean to you?
Like, Black love, like basically when I say open up your Black arms, spread them Black wings, give all Black love is because a lot of parents and I’m going to be honest, a lot of parents talk shit to their kids. They make them feel like shit. They talk to them like they shit. They treat them worse than a treat they man some of them will treat them worse than their treat a man let’s take it there. Okay, so like my thing is like instead of me being protected, I just got beat and neglected while she hated me she still loved him. And you know, I felt like shit no kid ever have to go to knowing that my mama loved that man. And it may not even be the daddy more than they love me. Or either, you know, and it’s vice versa is men and women that didn’t do this. But is like is there like some women when they find out that they kids are being touched on as instead of protecting them? A lot of them it won’t believe them.
Or it is saying what you’re doing or get the call no mouth they name. And that shit ain’t cool bro. You know and that’s like one of my biggest piece is like don’t talk to that kid reckless in front of me because I will say something and I’m gonna feel the need to protect that kid because I remembered that I was once that kid, I was the talk at the table smoke cigarettes and drink coffee and also talk like old school so popper so it’s like I know that feeling, I know how I feel to like lose your worth. I know how I feel to hate yourself to want to kill yourself and actually mean it because you feel like the world would be better off without you. So on the Black community is really not that much love giving out you know? And I feel like if they gave out more hugs or you know uplifted their kid instead of degrading their kid are talking crazy to that kid and calling them out they name their kid to be a lot better, right? You know you supposed to you like when you verbally abuse a kid you drop their self-esteem, and you make them feel a way that they should not be feeling at that age.
And if you’re like, if you’re thinking back, and if you’re imagining things, like, what is your life look like, without writing today?
Fucking lost? Lost? Because, like, writing is what saved me. You know, like, writing became my medicine. And a gave me different ways it gave me another coping skill, you know, to have instead of hurting myself, and I mean, writing is always better than fucking cutting yourself popping pills in trying to hang yourself. So, already continue to have writing like, I love poetry, like I love music and stuff like that. So as like, without music, and without writing, I’ll be lost and I’m not trying to be another statistic really lost in the sauce. Like, especially when it’s a form of therapy.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 26:29
You mentioned music a couple of times, like what do you listen to?
I listen to like, you know, Black woman by Danielle. Stand Up by Cynthia. And it’s like, I feel like, like, okay, like, you got to appreciate the fact of being a woman and but at the same time a Black woman, especially by me, man, a lesbian Black woman. And there’s like we used to, I used to have, like, very low self-esteem. So now it’s like, by you know, like having certain people to, like, uplift my confidence. And me, first and foremost, is like, yeah, I’m a Black woman. I look at my dark skin, my kinky hair like they hate me. Like, you know, like that song. Like, everybody wants to be Black, but don’t nobody want to be it. So it’s like, it’s hard out here in these streets to be a Black woman, especially like a lesbian, Black woman. And dress like a boy, so I get like, racially profile. And then I’ll be like, I’m a girl. They don’t even care. Like, would you know as far as the police, but I’m just loving. I’m loving the skin that I am in, like, I’m loving the person that I am in. Especially from coming from a dark side where I came from, which is like not loving myself having self-hate. And always felt that I was like, ugly. You know, I might not be the finest motherfucker out here. But you know, I know, I got some type of sauce.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez 28:27
Right. If you could describe yourself outside of writing and poetry. Who is Candice?
I’m a revolutionary. First and foremost, I’m a Black woman. I’m a revolutionary. I’m a protector. I’m an advocate. I’m a voice for the unheard. Instead of being a headache to the community, I became a pain reliever to the community. You know, as far as like being rehabilitated, and you know, selling drugs and different stuff to the community and to my people. And knowing like, now I was like killing my people off. Like it hurts me. You know, but the younger me would have been like, gosh, I’m gonna go ahead and get that dope sack or I’m gonna go figure out how I’m gonna go make some money to go hustle. But now she’s like, I see. I see somebody they could be family, Black, Hispanic, whatever. If I see somebody out there hungry. I’m going to feed them if I can.
And not like I didn’t came from kicking crab or boiling crab and I love seafood and I have full left over and I gave it to him like you like hot food? Like, hey, here you go. And beyond then in my mind, I be like, dang, I wanted that. But you know, I could get it next time. You know, because or give them a couple of dollars. But because when I was out there homeless as 16-17 actually I ran away at 13. So, when I was out there in the streets, I know how I felt like being hungry and pan handling to try to get food, or trying to figure out where I’m asleep for the night.
Candice Price 30:25
So is like, the things that I’ve been through in life. I feel like the work that I do, nobody do it better than me if they never been through that shit. And I mean that as far as been a mentor to my peers, like give me the baddest kid. So I can help change that kid because I was the baddest kid or if I wasn’t the baddest kid, I was to talk like I was the baddest kid. And I had, like, don’t get me wrong, my life has not always been perfect. And I had a couple of downfalls in my life. But at the same time, like I made a happy place.
Thanks again to Candice. Who’s Candice Price on Facebook. @tazzyp86 on Instagram, and blkcandice on Snapchat. Moved by what you heard today. Want to do more? Follow and support InsideOUT Writers Workshop at insideoutwriters.org and click on ways to give. To get involved personally, and the work to end mass incarceration in California. Check out the work of ARC. The Anti-Recidivism Coalition Next week on WRITTEN OFF, writer Jimmy Valdez.
Jimmy Valdez 32:10
What a trip man. It’s crazy how. Yeah, that is really interesting to me. I’ve never really heard somebody else recite my stuff, you know? Wow.
WRITTEN OFF is a co-production of Lemonada Media and Black Bar Mitzvah. Our producer is Claire Jones. supervising producers are Xorje Olivares and Kryssy Pease. Executive producers are Aaron Bergman, Jay Ellis, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. Music and sound design by Xander Singh. Mix and scoring by Matthew Simonson. Special thanks to all of our contributors, and InsideOUT Writers, you can learn more about them at insideoutwriters.org. If you like what you heard, help others find us by rating the show and writing a review. Follow us at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms. To support written off and gain access to exclusive bonus material. Like additional conversations with the writers and producers of this show. Subscribe to Lemonada Premium, only on Apple podcasts. And for more of my work, visit my website wthdz.com. I’m Walter Thompson Hernandez. Thanks for listening.