Large Fears: A Book For The Little Black Boy In Us All

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People try to beat the magic out of black boys who like the color pink.

They say it’s to protect us. But it’s not. It’s to protect them. It’s to protect them from their fear.

It’s to protect them from their ignorance. They know that we can become something free from the limits of their own imaginations… and it terrifies them.

Yet despite this, we thrive. We thrive with curves and color and fluidity and a force that cannot be contained within the prison of a “man code”. We thrive while living breathing wonder and continually giving birth to the impossible.

We thrive because we begin to honor and embrace the Jeremiah Nebula we have within us all.

Who is Jeremiah Nebula? Jeremiah Nebula is a young black boy who loves the color pink and wants to go to mars. He is the protagonist in a new book by Myles Johnson and Kendrick Daye, called Large fears. In Large Fears, Jeremiah takes us on a journey through his imagination where he faces the fears that come with growth, being different and self realization in this world. Each step in Jeremiah’s journey reflects major life lessons, curated perfectly in the form of a child’s story.

To honor the coming of such a great project, I sat down with the creators to ask them more about Large Fears and what this book means for black children everywhere.

Yolo: What was the inspiration for Large Fears and the character, Jeremiah Nebula?

Myles: The inspiration was definitely based off of who I was as a child. I had an adventurous spirit and a wild imagination, but I was always attracted to things that I was constantly told weren’t appropriate for me like the color pink or scary episodes of “The Twilight Zone”. Jeremiah Nebula is definitely me reconciling
with my childhood.

Kendrick: Myles & I met years ago in Atlanta and we’ve worked together on numerous projects before “Large fears.” I feel like the story itself was inspired by not just our lives but by the lives of queer people in general. And anyone that feels they weren’t understood growing up.

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Yolo: On each star Jeremiah reaches in the book, there is a fear he has to face. Can you tell us more about these fears and what they symbolize?

Kendrick: For me they all definitely have a deeper meaning. He gets to one star which is inhabited by huge skyscrapers and larger than life butterflies and fireflies who wear crowns. To me that page symbolizes going into a new situation where you’re unsure of yourself and trying to assert yourself and claim your identity. I definitely identified with that page. When I moved to New York that’s where a lot of my insecurities started to show, because for the first time in my life I wasn’t the big fish in a small pond, I was just another fish in a vast ocean.

Yolo: The art in the book is breath taking. I noticed that throughout it, little Jeremiah is in black and white stencil amidst the color background- what lead you to make this artistic choice?

Kendrick: Thank you! Well I wanted him to stand out and not get lost in the colorful and busy backgrounds. But on a symbolic level that’s how i interpret the story in that this is how he viewed himself as he explores these vast and fantastic worlds, as standing out and not fitting in and not being as special as the worlds he’s in because he’s in black and white. But drawings of Jeremiah are what bring each of the illustrations together and make them dynamic.

Yolo: Have you met any resistance with this story? Have people been opposed to you writing about a young black boy that doesn’t have traditional masculine themes?

Read the rest at the huffington post

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My Latest for Huffington Post: On Leaving The Prison of Tops & Bottoms

 

(Read on Huffington Post Here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yolo-akili/leaving-the-prison-of-top_b_5524271.html

Language can quickly become a prison. It can entrap your imagination. Hold your subconscious hostage. Hide your true face from yourself, prevent you from seeing the authentic face of others…

For so long, top and bottom as terms, have been a prison for the sexuality of gay men.

Within this prison, one sexual act defines the very core of an individual.

Within this prison, stereotypes charade as whole sexual beings.

Within this prison, power is  perceived in a subjugated/subjugator model, and sex is largely only  understood when a dick is present and entering an orifice.

Beyond the confines of these terms, another world exists. It’s a world where we can perceive and hold the complexities of our own genders, where we can be seen full portrait and not just in puzzled pieces.

It’s a world where all of us can be affirmed; whether we have penises or not, whether we are able to penetrate or be penetrated, whether we even desire to participate in those acts.

But it is not familiar. It does not hold the same binary contrast that we have become so dependent upon in order to orchestrate desire. It does not honor the shame that we have learned to hold so tightly to our chests.

To go there, to dare to traverse the boundaries of this prison, is to force ourselves to face our deepest fears. For many of us to define ourselves beyond our dicks and what we do with them. To own the parts of ourselves we were taught we could not bring into the light because we were too masculine, too feminine, too “something” — to allow the sun to illuminate us.

This is a call to close the prison.

This is a call to unseat the warden and strip the bars from the windows of our minds. This is a call to to conjure language that allows us to own our principle sites of pleasure — but does not hold us hostage to them. This is a call to create language that cannot be driven back towards stereotypes of men and women, or inflated with hierarchical models of power. Language that can distinguish the difference between subjugation, and the performance of subjugation.

It is important to note, many people have tried to renovate the penitentiary. Tried to make it kinder, gentler, broader. Tried to re-inscribe bottom, un-elevate top. But a prison is a prison. And because of this a “bottom” still means weak, and “top” still means power — the terms themselves are so inscribed with hierarchy; they are not easily re-imagined — and above all else, concrete does not color well.

So this is a call for a new system. A new language. New ways to name our sexual selves, and honor the erotic spirit that exists beyond the act of penetration. This is a call to invite us to become clearer to each other outside of checked boxes on grindr or stats listed on jacked.

This is an opportunity for us to envision, to imagine, what else could be possible? What other words could there be? What new frames can hold us in our entirety? What can we create to name our desires, genders, preferences when we leave the confines of the warden’s prison consciousness? Only time, and you and I, will tell…

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My Latest For Huffington Post: An Interview with Co-Founder of Men Stopping Violence

 

 

We Are The Work: The Making of Men Stopping Violence, a new book by therapist and long-time activist Dick Bathrick, chronicles the 30-year legacy of Men Stopping Violence, an organization that has worked tirelessly to end violence against women by engaging the population largely responsible for that violence — men.

Started in 1980, Men Stopping Violence came into being when few people were viewing violence against women as a problem of men. It was — and in many places still is — seen as something that is a “women’s issue,” despite the fact that research shows men are largely the perpetuators. Over the years, MSV’s work has had a significant cultural impact on how we understand gender-based violence, influencing everything from mainstream media to government agencies.

In recognition of National Sexual Assault Month, a call to awareness on all forms of sexual assault and violence, I reached out to Dick to talk to him about We Are The Work, the legacy of MSV, and why it is important that this book reaches men who are dedicated to ending violence.

Read the Rest at HuffingtonPost 

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Brunch With The Boys

For those who don’t know, my latest collective endeavor is Brunch With The Boys.

Brunch With The Boys is a bi-weekly show featuring a revolving group of men of color. It is focused on creating dynamic and healing conversations between men of color.  Below is our first pilot episode.  You can read more about the show here.

In 

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Meet The Boys


 Twitter: @Eddie_Ndopu 

Eddie Ndopu is a South African queer designer, fledgling activist and intellectual, and transnational socialite. He serves as a Contributing Editor for The Feminist Wire where he writes about disability, representation and embodiment. Eddie is currently wrapping up his Bachelor of Arts Degree at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. When Eddie isn’t studying or writing, he’s reading Vogue and hobnobbing with friends in search of the best martinis and mojitos.                          

 

 

 

Twitter @Talley_Marked    Aaron Talley is a Chicago-based activist, educator, writer, and blogger. Though he loves shade and a good #Read every now and again, he prefers to read actual books. (James Baldwin anyone?) He’s still struggling to make his Jack’d profile sound less nerdy. Tips would be appreciated. You can follow:

 

 

 

Twitter: @KenyonFarrow  Kenyon Farrow  is your favorite butch queen’s favorite butch queen. He is an award-winning writer and activist. He is the former executive director of Queers for Economic Justice and currently serves on the board of Streetwise and Safe. Kenyon is co-editor of Letters From Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out.  Kenyon has been a panelist, lecturer and keynote speaker at many conferences and universities including New York University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin/Madison, and Hampshire College, University of California/Berkeley, Antioch College, & University of Texas at Austin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter: @Chase8PP Chase Simmons is storyteller and filmmaker based out of Atlanta, GA. He directed and produced Dear Dad: Letters from Same a Gender Loving Sons, a film about eight black gay men and their fathers. He is passionate about social justice and telling the untold stories of communities of color. For more information visit: www.chasesimmons.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter: @YoloAkili   Yolo Akili is the creator of Brunch with the Boys. He is a longtime writer, poet, yoga teacher and activist. He is the author of Dear Universe: Letters of Affirmation & Empowerment. Yolo’s writings have appeared in the Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Everyday Feminisms, The Atlanta Journal Constitution and much more. He has been an invited keynote speaker at Vanderbilt University, University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University and an invited presenter at Columbia and Fordham. Yolo has appeared on Huffington Post Live & The Derek & Romaine Show (Sirius XM). He also loves gourmet cupcakes. 

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