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On Life and Meaning

Nov 29, 2018

Don Taylor is an assistant professor of sociology at Johnson & Wales University. He has worked in various human services positions, including the fields of mental health, child welfare, couples and families, and domestic and sexual violence. He has written a group treatment curriculum entitled S.E.E.D.: Self-Esteem and Expression Development for African-American Adolescents, which is used by several programs targeting adolescents who attend Alcoholics Anonymous. Don is author of the novel Buggin: A Brother’s Tale and an accomplished jazz saxophonist. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Cheyney State College and a master’s degree in social administration from Case Western University.  

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in sociology, turning a journal into a novel, playing the saxophone, and a career in human services and education.  


  • Don talks about sociology and the classes he teaches.
  • He addresses the challenge of having personal agency as we operate within institutional forces.
  • He describes what people would see if they saw him teach.
  • He answers why he is drawn to sociology as a field of study.
  • Don shares what he wants his students to learn.
  • He explains what his novel Buggin: A Brother’s Tale is about.
  • He reveals how he feels playing the saxophone.
  • He identifies the music he would want to listen to as the final light in his life went out.
  • Don remembers his childhood in Charles Town, West Virginia.
  • He explains why he plays ‘Amazing Grace’ every time he plays the saxophone.
  • He shares what changed his life in college.
  • He remembers greeting Minister Farrakhan at Cheyney State College.
  • Don tells a story about changing his name to ‘Donald X.’
  • He shares what led him to earn a masters degree at Case Western University.
  • He discusses his career in human services and his focus on ‘manhood’ issues.
  • He describes facilitating therapeutic group work with men.
  • Don recalls participating in racial reconciliation work in Charlotte.
  • He answers what matters most to him and what the poem ‘Invictus’ has to do with it.

plus Mark's Personal Word Essay: Becoming X

To learn more, visit On Life and Meaning