We had the good fortune of connecting with Raafeke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Raafeke, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
When I am long gone, I want people to remember all the ways I tried to build and foster community. Whether people think this is possible or not, I want to do so through creative writing and creative endeavors in general. I want people to remember that stories are powerful because words themselves are powerful, and powerful words can foster powerful actions, which then fosters powerful change. I want my legacy to be one of interconnectedness, especially amongst the African diaspora.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a writer, I feel like I am just now starting. My novel, Radiance Lost, is technically my first published piece of work, even though I also blog on a site called Medium and frequently post poetry on Instagram. This year I also wrote my first short film, called System, for Georgia State University. I feel like all of these projects are a testament to my consistency, a trait I believe is necessary to get anything done. I definitely think I set myself apart from other writers by including what I like to call my “cultural stamp” in my work. It’s definitely the thing I am most proud of. I am a 1st- generation American. My dad is from Guyana, and my mom, though born in Brooklyn, has parents from Grenada. As a result, I’ve grown up in a very West Indian household, and I wanted my work to reflect that. That’s why I included our patois/creole/dialect (whatever you want to call it) in Radiance Lost. I also included foods and other aspects of my culture in the book. Not only that, but since I grew up with a lot of Nigerian kids, I tried my best to showcase their culture too.
Writing the book was hard, but I think being a self-published author is even harder. Now I have to think like an entrepreneur. I do my own PR to get noticed in various media outlets, and that, on top of working and being a college student, takes up a lot of my time. My biggest challenge will always be exercising patience. I want to be great, and I want to be gain renown quickly so the people I love can see it before they pass away. My grandfather succumbed to COVID in November, only three months before my novel was released. That still breaks my heart.
When people think of me, I want them to know that blackness is not a monolith. It is multifaceted and multicultural, and yet we are all still connected.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had to show off the city to a visiting friend, I would definitely take them to Piedmont Park first. I have gotten a better appreciation for nature since I started going there, and I would want to the show them why Atlanta is also called “A city in the forest”. As a student of GSU (state not southern) I would take them to the downtown campus to hangout and visit Mangoes, a West Indian restaurant I frequently visited before the pandemic started. The High Museum of Art is a great place to visit too, and when it comes to shopping I’m going to Lennox.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give credit to my friends and family who have supported me along the way. Although it only took me 8 months to write the first draft of my novel, Radiance Lost, it took almost 5 years before that draft became a published book. I had to start over on drafts, and when the book entered the process of publication I had to make business decisions, some that broke my heart. Had it not been for my friends and family, I never would have gotten off the ground. I especially want to thank my sister, Lauren, for helping me finish writing the book. She helped me refine all of my ideas.