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About Jabari Asim
JABARI ASIM is the acclaimed author of "A Taste Of Honey" and "Only The Strong," both works of fiction, as well as the highly praised "The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, And Why" and "We Can't Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival."
His children's books include "Whose Toes Are Those," "Whose Knees Are These," "Preaching To The Chickens," and "A Child's Introduction to African-American History."
He is a professor of creative writing at Emerson College.
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They call themselves the Stolen. Their owners call them captives. They are taught their captors’ tongues and their beliefs but they have a language and rituals all their own.
In a world that would be allegorical if it weren’t saturated in harsh truths, Cato and William meet at Placid Hall, a plantation in an unspecified part of the American South. Subject to the whims of their tyrannical and eccentric captor, Cannonball Greene, they never know what harm may befall them: inhumane physical toil in the plantation’s quarry by day, a beating by night, or the sale of a loved one at any moment. It’s that cruel practice—the wanton destruction of love, the belief that Black people aren’t even capable of loving—that hurts the most.
It hurts the reserved and stubborn William, who finds himself falling for Margaret, a small but mighty woman with self-possession beyond her years. And it hurts Cato, whose first love, Iris, was sold off with no forewarning. He now finds solace in his hearty band of friends, including William, who is like a brother; Margaret; Little Zander; and Milton, a gifted artist. There is also Pandora, with thick braids and long limbs, whose beauty calls to him.
Their relationships begin to fray when a visiting minister with a mysterious past starts to fill their heads with ideas about independence. He tells them that with freedom comes the right to choose the small things—when to dine, when to begin and end work—as well as the big things, such as whom and how to love. Do they follow the preacher and pursue the unknown? Confined in a landscape marked by deceit and uncertainty, who can they trust?
In an elegant work of monumental imagination that will reorient how we think of the legacy of America’s shameful past, Jabari Asim presents a beautiful, powerful, and elegiac novel that examines intimacy and longing in the quarters while asking a vital question: What would happen if an enslaved person risked everything for love?
What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists.
Featuring poems, letters, personal essays, art, and other works from such industry leaders as Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), Jason Reynolds (All American Boys), Kwame Alexander (The Crossover), Andrea Pippins (I Love My Hair), Sharon Draper (Out of My Mind), Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer), Ellen Oh (cofounder of We Need Diverse Books), and artists Ekua Holmes, Rafael Lopez, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, and more, this anthology empowers the nation's youth to listen, learn, and build a better tomorrow.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018!
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018!
The N Word reveals how the term “nigger” has both reflected and spread the scourge of bigotry in America over the four hundred years since it was first spoken on our shores. Jabari Asim pinpoints Thomas Jefferson as the source of our enduring image of the “nigger.” In a seminal but now obscure essay, Jefferson marshaled a welter of pseudoscience to define the stereotype of a shiftless child-man with huge appetites and stunted self-control. Asim reveals how nineteenth-century “science” then colluded with popular culture to amplify this slander. What began as false generalizations became institutionalized in every corner of our society: the arts and sciences, sports, the law, and on the streets. Asim’s conclusion is as original as his premise. He argues that even when uttered with the opposite intent by hipsters and hip-hop icons, the slur helps keep blacks at the bottom of America’s socioeconomic ladder. But Asim also proves there is a place for the word in the mouths and on the pens of those who truly understand its twisted history—from Mark Twain to Dave Chappelle to Mos Def. Only when we know its legacy can we loosen this slur’s grip on our national psyche.
Jabari Asim goes beyond what's taught in the classroom to reveal a fact-filled history of African American history through politics, activism, sports, entertainment, music, and much more. You'll follow the road to freedom beginning with the slave trade and the middle passage through the abolitionist movement and the Civil War where many African Americans fought as soldiers. You'll learn how slave songs often contained hidden messages and how a 15-year-old Jamaican-born young man named Clive Campbell helped to create hip-hop in the early 1970's.
You'll experience the passionate speeches, marches, and movements of the Civil Rights era along with and the sacrifices of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and many others. Along the way there are dozens of profiles of political trailblazers like Shirley Chisholm, the first black women elected to Congress in 1968; dominants athletes like Tiger Woods who, in 1995, was only the second African American to play in a Master's Golf Tournament which he went on to win in 1997; popular musicians like Miles Davis, one the most influential artists of the twentieth century; and inspiring writers like Toni Morrison, the first African American to win the Nobel Prize in literature.
Filled with beautiful illustrations by Lynn Gaines that bring these figures and events to life, plus a removable historical timeline poster, A Child's Introduction to African American History is a fascinating and comprehensive guide to this often overlooked yet immensely important part of American history.
Jabari Asim’s debut novel returns readers to Gateway City, the fictional Midwestern city first explored in his acclaimed short story collection, Taste of Honey. Against a 1970s backdrop of rapid social and political change, Only the Strong portrays the challenges and rewards of love in a quintessential American community where heartbreak and violence are seldom far away.
Moved by the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Lorenzo “Guts” Tolliver decides to abandon his career as a professional leg-breaker and pursue a life of quiet moments and generous helpings of banana pudding in the company of his new, sensuous lover. His erstwhile boss, local kingpin Ananias Goode, is also thinking about slowing down—but his tempestuous affair with Dr. Artinces Noel, a prominent pediatrician, complicates his retirement plans. Meanwhile, Charlotte Divine, the doctor’s headstrong protégée, struggles with trials of her own.
With prose that’s sharp, humorous, and poetic, Asim skillfully renders a compelling portrait of urban life in the wake of the last major civil-rights bill. Massive change is afoot in America, and these characters have front-row seats.
“[A] heartfelt, polyphonic ode to 1970s black America.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Captivating.” —Jane Ciabattari, NPR Book Concierge: Best Books of 2015
“Incomparable charisma and verve.” —The Root, Best Fiction of 2015
“Lean, mean, and moving.” —Kirkus Reviews, Kirkus Prize nominee
“Thoroughly entertaining and stylish . . . deserves favorable comparison to the works of Chester Himes and Walter Mosley.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
of making friends with words,
setting free the secrets
that lived in books.
Born into slavery, young Booker T. Washington could only dream of learning to read and write. After emancipation, Booker began a five-hundred-mile journey, mostly on foot, to Hampton Institute, taking his first of many steps towards a college degree. When he arrived, he had just fifty cents in his pocket and a dream about to come true. The young slave who once waited outside of the schoolhouse would one day become a legendary educator of freedmen.
Award-winning artist Bryan Collier captures the hardship and the spirit of one of the most inspiring figures in American history, bringing to life Booker T. Washington's journey to learn, to read, and to realize a dream.
Critically acclaimed author Jabari Asim and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis give readers a fascinating glimpse into the boyhood of Civil Rights leader John Lewis.
John wants to be a preacher when he grows up—a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm’s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen, content under his watchful care, riveted by the rhythm of his voice.
Celebrating ingenuity and dreaming big, this inspirational story, featuring Jabari Asim’s stirring prose and E. B. Lewis’s stunning, light-filled impressionistic watercolor paintings, includes an author’s note about John Lewis, who grew up to be a member of the Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and demonstrator on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. John Lewis is now a Georgia congressman, who is still an activist today, recently holding a sit-in on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol to try to force a vote on gun violence. His March: Book Three recently won the National Book Award, as well as the American Library Association's Coretta Scott King Author Award, Printz Award, and Sibert Award.
A young reader’s adaptation of Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights, the memoir of activist and trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree, by Katie McCabe.
Raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the height of Jim Crow, Dovey Johnson Roundtree felt the sting of inequality at an early age and made a point to speak up for justice. She was one of the first Black women to break the racial and gender barriers in the US Army; a fierce attorney in the segregated courtrooms of Washington, DC; and a minister in the AME church, where women had never before been ordained as clergy. In 1955, Roundtree won a landmark bus desegregation case that eventually helped end “separate but equal” and dismantle Jim Crow laws across the South.
Developed with the full support of the Dovey Johnson Roundtree Educational Trust and adapted from her memoir, this book brings her inspiring, important story and voice to life.
A Junior Library Guild Selection
Through a series of fictional episodes set against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent years in modern history, Asim brings into pin-sharp focus how the tumultuous events of '68 affected real people's lives and shaped the country we live in today.
The sixteen connected stories in this exciting debut are set in the fictional Midwestern town of Gateway City, where second generation off-spring of the Great Migrators have pieced together a thriving, if fragile existence. With police brutality on the rise, the civil rights movement gaining momentum, and wars raging at home and abroad, Asim has conjured a community that stands on edge. But it is the individual struggles with love, childrearing, adolescence, etc, lyrically chronicled here, that create a piercing portrait of humanity.
In I'd Rather Go Blind and Zombies, young Crispus Jones, who while sensitive to the tremors of upheaval around him is still much more concerned with his crush on neighbor Polly and if he's ever going to be as cool as his brother. When Ray Mortimer, a white cop, kills the owner of his favorite candy store, Crispus becomes aware of malice even more scary than zombies and the ghost that he thinks may be haunting his house.
In The Wheat from the Tares and A Virtuous Woman, Rose Whittier deals with her abusive husband with a desperate resignation until his past catches up with him and she's given a second chance at love. And Gabriel, her suitor, realizes that his whole-hearted commitment to The Struggle may have to give way for his own shot at romance.
And in Ashes to Ashes we see how a single act of despicable violence in their childhoods cements a lasting connection between two unlikely friends.
From Crispus' tender innocence to Ray Mortimer's near pure evil, to Rose's quiet determination, the characters in this book and their journeys showcase a world that is brimming with grace and meaning and showcases the talents of a writer at the top of his game.
A Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
Insightful and searing essays that celebrate the vibrancy and strength of black history and culture in America by critically acclaimed writer Jabari Asim
"A fantastic essay collection...Blending personal reflection with historical analysis and cultural and literary criticism, these essays are a sharp, illuminating response to the nation’s continuing racial conflicts."—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
In We Can’t Breathe, Jabari Asim disrupts what Toni Morrison has exposed as the “Master Narrative” and replaces it with a story of black survival and persistence through art and community in the face of centuries of racism. In eight wide-ranging and penetrating essays, he explores such topics as the twisted legacy of jokes and falsehoods in black life; the importance of black fathers and community; the significance of black writers and stories; and the beauty and pain of the black body. What emerges is a rich portrait of a community and culture that has resisted, survived, and flourished despite centuries of racism, violence, and trauma. These thought-provoking essays present a different side of American history, one that doesn’t depend on a narrative steeped in oppression but rather reveals black voices telling their own stories.
The perfect Valentine's gift for your baby or toddler!
In My Baby Loves Valentine's Day, celebrate all the lovely things that Baby discovers about Valentine's Day:
Baby loves hearts made of paper and lace.
Baby loves kisses and a loving embrace.
Baby loves pretty red roses...
Celebrate all the lovely things Baby discovers about Valentine's Day!
This board book, the perfect gift for a new baby, features rhythmic poetry from Jabari Asim and adorable art from Tara Nicole Whitaker.
The perfect Halloween gift for your baby or toddler!
With My Baby Loves Halloween, celebrate all the lovely things that Baby discovers about Halloween:
Baby loves the crisp autumn air.
Baby loves candles in pumpkins that grin.
Baby loves candy...
Celebrate all the sweet things that Baby discovers about Halloween. This Own Voices board book, the perfect gift for a new baby, features rhythmic poetry from Jabari Asim and adorable art from Tara Nicole Whitaker.