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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Writing books for Black Boys

 About a year ago a commenter told me that there was a growing market for fiction for Black boys. Now I wanted to jump on this opportunity and reach the market of young brothers, but I realized I wasn’t ready.

Now I had some stories published with Black male leads such as The Temptation of John Haynes, The Sneakers, and to an extent A Recipe For Success, but developing fiction for Black boys requires a writer to really know what they’re doing. A writer like myself has to have their mind right before putting fingers to the keyboard.

So I’ve been taking time to get in touch with my manhood. Embracing my masculinity. Learning about the issues relating to black boys and Black men.

I’ve been reading lots of articles from Black men and watching videos produced by Black men and chatting with other Black men on Facebook, twitter, and my blog.

In addition to social media, I’ve been studying TV and films. Old TV shows like Dragnet, Adam-12, and Marcus Welby M.D. used to promote the relationship between men. In these shows the older man used his wisdom and experience to teach the younger man lessons of life he could only learn from another man along with the career he was pursuing. And it was from those life lessons that the younger man became proficient in the social skills he needed to pursue his career path.

When you present a story to readers the message has to be just right. Or else the reader will come out of the experience for the worse instead of better. The last thing I want to do is publish books that teach boys how to grow up to become weak Black men.

Over the last 40 years Black boys have been taught one message by society: That their main goal in life is to please women. In most Black media today, we are shown that a Black man must sacrifice his own happiness to please the women in his life such as his girlfriend, or his mother. That having a relationship with a woman is more important than their education, their job, and even their personal intangibles such as his dignity and self-respect. That he has to have money in order to win the girl of his dreams.

These messages are detrimental to the development of a Black boy and prevent him from growing up to become a strong Black man who can lead his family and his community.

These dysfunctional messages are not only in the media but reinforced in the social interactions black boys have in their personal lives. With a majority of Black boys growing up in single parent female headed households, they learn from day one that women should be put first and that their job is to make a woman happy.

If I write books for Black boys, I want to promote positive character traits that will teach them to become strong Black men and leaders in their own communities. I want to get back to the messages I saw in classic TV, where a Black boy learns the lessons of life from an older man. Where a Black boy learns about a business or a career path and the lessons needed to maintain that business and make a contribution to their communities.

The way I see it a Black boy needs to read stories where he sees Black men as a role models and leaders in their own communities. Someone who can teach him. There are only some lessons a man can learn from another man and boys need to see that patriarchal relationship modeled for them.

I believe stories for Black boys have to show young brothers that Black men are valuable. That Black men have something to offer them. And that they can grow up to become people who bring something of value to the table.

For me, writing stories for Black boys isn’t about making money. It’s about providing Black boys with literature that will allow them to develop the critical thinking skills that will help them compete in a changing world. Black boys desperately need literature that shows them how to become leaders and innovators, something that gets them to start thinking outside of the box, inspires them and opens up their imagination and creativity.

I’m almost ready to start writing stories for Black boys. I’m still doing research and I’m trying to refine the story model before I start creating characters and putting fingers to the keyboard. I want to give my Black male readers the same type of quality my female readers receive in my Young Adult stories like The Isis series, All About Nikki, and The Thetas. 

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