We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. April Bee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. April, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Being a black woman in social work, I recognize the unique barriers that keep us from feeling worthy, being successful, being seen, heard, or valued. I recognize that societal norms and microaggressions have kept so many of us from having the space to express–emotions, experiences, aspirations, and needs. Therefore, I felt that it is my duty in this field to provide a platform and space for our community to express individually and collectively. I seek to create innovative approaches for us to address the trauma we have endured, as well as share the joys we have experienced. I seek for this to expand in social work curriculum and be utilized in more clinical therapeutic settings. Looking at famous movements of artivism (such as the Chicano Movement), this sets a precedent in how powerful and necessary artistic expression is for the liberation of oppressed and marginalized communities. Our voice, our writings, our pictures, or any other expression are powerful and tell stories to activate healing and connection amongst us all. Therefore, I want to serve as a catalyst in ensuring that we all feel authentic, validated, liberated, and empowered. As a poet, photographer, and former musician, I have experienced the benefit in using artistic expression to navigate life experiences, and to liberate from social barriers. I am energized to support others in doing the same. We deserve it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a poet, a photographer, a speaker, and a journalist. I mostly showcase and focus on my poetry and photography. What sets me apart is that the premise of my art is to capture the stories of people in a way that is therapeutic for them, and connecting/therapeutic for others. With my mental health/wellness background, I create events that allow you to unpack your experiences and understand how your story is directly connected to the pictures I take, and how this picture has now become your therapy. I honestly couldn’t believe how my photography projects have really helped people to open up wounds, improve their intimate life, become more bold, and so many more things. Specifically, this occurs with my Breathe Project. This highlights the expression and experiences of Black Men in America. It has only been 2 months, and I am seeing such transformation in the men I’ve captured. With poetry, I always remember to be as raw and vulnerable as possible. I love using heavy metaphors to softly address the weighted topics that I express. I want to connect with others in their most hidden thoughts that may have not been safe to say aloud to others so that we can all feel connected and learn ways to unpack and heal. I am grateful for the ability to utilize my personal vessel and experiences to allow others to feel lifted and whole. The road was not easy, as nothing is. I had to learn a lot about myself in order to truly be a healthy vessel for others. I learned that I must be a great steward of the things I have to receive anything more. I learned that in order for me to encourage vulnerability in others, my vulnerability would be amplified exponentially. I learned that things take time, and to not allow trauma or internalized capitalism reign over purpose and alignment. It will happen when it is supposed to happen, and what I am doing in EACH season is ENOUGH! This is who I am individually and as a brand–authentic, genuine, developing, empathetic, determined, and celebratory. We will bathe in our designed purpose.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I like Shell Shack in Lower Greenville. It’s the best I’ve ever had. I also like going to the lake in Lewisville for some peaceful fun. Deep Ellum is a great spot to meet up and have some fun during the evening. Hopefully, that fulfills a COVID-friendly trip.
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?
Shoutout to Jesus. Period. The greatest shoutout is always my mama. She brought me on this earth while being deep into her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and her bright smile shines daily in my life, even while no longer living. I also must shoutout my family for everything they have done to sacrifice for my successes, and for supporting me in their own ways. I want to shoutout my mentors, specifically Michael Madry and Victoria Dunn (RIH to both) for their intensive pouring into who I am and who I have become, and who have taught me to always have integrity and compassion in everything that I do. Also, a shoutout to my “Spec”, Sierra Austin, for her support and mentorship from the first moment that we met! Such a role model. I need to give a HUGE shoutout to all of my previous students. They taught me more than I could teach them, and they saw my journey and lifted me through. They are my light. Shoutout to my really close friends for putting up with all of my seasons of life, and believing in me beyond measure. I still get emotional thinking about how amazing my circle is. A special shoutout to my best friend of 11 years that rode through everything I have transformed into and believed in me in the times when there was absolutely nothing to believe in. Thank you for always being my rock. Last but not least, shoutout to influential people in the media who aren’t afraid to be themselves to lead the people. I’ve been so influenced By Kendrick Lamar, Brene Brown, Michelle Obama, Nas, Common, and so many more that I am sure I’m forgetting. Thank you for your wisdom, your own journey of self-growth, and for preaching authenticity and healing to the masses.
Linkedin: Dr. April Bee
Other: I have a personal website: www.draprilbee.com The Breathe Project website is www.rawhoneypf.com/breathe
3 Photos by Alana Marie Lens.