Three years in the making
On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown's life ended. I remember the exact moment when I heard the news and saw the video images of his body face down on the street in Fergusson, Missouri. Infuriated, angry, scared, concerned, and pissed off could have described my emotions following the understanding that another Black life was ended prematurely by the hands of law enforcement. I decided at that moment to do something.
I felt compelled to respond. As a Black man, father to two Black sons, a mentor to boys of color, and an academic who studied the impact of racism, I had a surplus of reasons to get involved. In the moments afterward, I sent an email to several of my friends who were activists, husbands, scholars, and fathers. I asked them, “how are we going to respond?” One response that stood out among others was simple; let’s continue to put in the work that we are doing in our community. That message, "put in the work," guided some critical decisions and actions in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Out of fear that I wouldn’t return home, my wife urged me not to go to Fergusson in the aftermath of the homicide. She was concerned about the resistance movement and the reported violence that activists were faced to confront. After listening to her rationale and the recommendation from one of my comrades, I decided to remain in Chicago and do what I could with local resources. I participated and helped organize marches focused on bringing more awareness to police brutality and influencing local changes. In addition to the protests, I engaged more conversations with my students about the experiences of Black males born in America.
"In some ways, writing the book has been therapeutic for me, because it has required an inner exploration of my childhood, adolescence, and adult experiences with race, racism, notions of masculinity, and the construct of gender."
The murder of Michael Brown, protests, and conversations with others about the experiences of Black males led me down the path to writing a book. For the past three years, I have been deciding on the content and how to share my experiences as a Black male born in America. In some ways, putting it together has been therapeutic for me, because the writing hals required an inner exploration of my childhood, adolescence, and adult experiences with race, racism, notions of masculinity, and the construct of gender. The process of writing this book has required me to articulate the rage I felt when Michael Brown was killed, forced me to conquer self-doubt, reexamine my position at the university, and ultimately move out of the country to create a life on my terms.
Earlier this week, I finally signed the contract for my book to be published. Over the past seven months, I contemplated self, hybrid, traditional, and academic publication options. I decided to go with an academic publishing house, because I believe my intended audience for this first book is likely to be found in and around educational settings. It took nearly six long months to secure a contract with my publisher, but with gratitude, we agreed to the terms and conditions on Tuesday of this week.
When will the book be available for purchase?
The final version of the book is due January 10, 2018. I do not have a release date, but as soon as I do I will share that information with my email list serve first! (Sign upJ This week, I worked on revisions and came across this line, “Too often many young men who are kissed by the sun and hugged by melanin at birth, are forced to succumb to structural inequalities and socially constructed identities.” This book would not have been made possible without my experiences as a Black male, an intrinsic desire to make a positive impact in the lives of other boys and young men of color, and the ability to channel my anger and self-discipline toward the creativity within me.
When was the last time you were upset? How did you manage your emotions? Leave a response in the comments.