There are times that I doubted when I should have believed and there are times that I stopped when I should have kept going. I am not alone in this erroneous thinking. Many of these thoughts are the bitter fruit of a false narrative that says black boys aren’t as smart, black students aren’t as hard working and black men aren’t as reliable. Black men are inferior. How can I as an educated African American man with two degrees still doubt myself when I walk into a room of my white peers? Why do I still feel the pressure to perform or prove that I am twice as good? Why do I have to be twice as good? Why do I get nervous when I get pulled over by a police officer?
These are the questions that me and many men who look like have to wrestle with on a daily basis. One could argue that we all have insecurities regardless of where we come from or what skin color that we have. This is true and untrue. All people have insecurities, but there is a different level of trauma that has to be weighed through by people who have been told negative stories about themselves since birth. I am a black man from Memphis, TN. Before I was born there was a story being written about me and statistics being calculated about me that did not land in my favor. I didn’t choose to have that story written or those statistics calculated, but I had to inherit and navigate that story accordingly.
This topic creates angst in some people and ignites anger in others, so I would like to share my reason for writing this book. Maybe this will help you make a more informed decision about supporting this project or have more understanding when engaging this conversation in your personal dealings.
So why did I write a book about African American male identity?
- To play the victim, no. Nothing could go against my pride more than the idea of being victimized. Black people do not desire to be victimized, but to have an honest and clear story told. I don’t desire to victimize myself or other black men, but to report an accurate picture of history and society as it is. We cannot move forward into the future without taking an honest look at the past and the present.
- To make white people feel bad, no. I did not write this book to cast shame on white people or to make the majority culture feel bad. I instead hope to build a bridge between black men and the broader culture in which they live. There are some things that may be challenging to read for non black readers, but as a follower of Christ I feel the burden to build bridges and not walls.
- To vent, no. There are portions of WWDS that are very personal. I had to wrestle with my own doubts, fears and insecurities associated with the false narrative. I wrote this book because I had to. I had to deconstruct the lies so that I could be a more emotionally, spiritually, mentally and financially free man. Next I wanted to help other men find this same freedom.
The Core 4 Reasons Why WWDS was written
- I had to. The writing of this book was absolutely essential for my own mental, emotional, spiritual and financial freedom. The idea for WWDS came in 2011. I sat on it for 6 years and never picked up the pen to write it. In spring of 2017, I visited New York City. The sheer vastness of New York and the bold attitude of the city told me that I needed to put my best foot forward in life. I had better do the things that God had called me to and not hesitate in disobedience any longer.2.
- To cultivate empathy. I believe that the proverbial need of the hour is empathy. In an increasingly polarized nation we need to gain a greater understanding of “the other.” We need to gain insight into each other’s stories in order to grow in respect and appreciation of each other’s journey. I wanted to open up about my personal story and the story of other black men in other to cultivate unifying empathy. We tend to only know each other’s headlines and not each other’s stories.
- To help black men unlock their true story. Few things can be more constricting and enslaving than a lie that is believed. I hope that black men can read this book and deconstruct the myth of black inferiority. My prayer is that brothers will read this book and be set free. “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”
- To make you think twice. If this book accomplishes anything I hope that it can make you “think twice.” Think twice before you doubt. Think twice before you judge. Think twice before you quit. Think twice before you give up on black youth. Think twice before you pull the trigger. Think twice before you have the abortion.
I hope that you continue to engage this conversation with an open mind and a willing heart. The hope is that we will deconstruct lies and build bridges. We Want A Different Story.
“We Want A Different Story” releases on Amazon and terencejunegray.com March 9th, 2019