I talked to Prince Shakur at the Ohioana Book Festival.
Tell me why you wrote a book.
I always loved books. I started writing when I was twelve. I got into fan fiction. From twelve to nineteen, I wrote five novels. I was deeply obsessed and invested. I had a weird home life. Writing helped me. I started thinking about this book in 2016 after I graduated from college. I was organizing and confronting state violence. Also, looking back at myself and my family, I wanted to write a book that encapsules these things. Being black, queer, Jamaican American, a traveler, someone who loves Baldwin, someone who likes to critique masculinity and think about it critically, I wanted to do all those things in one place.
How would you describe the book?
I describe it as my political coming of age and what it was like growing up closeted in a Jamaican family in Cleveland, then getting radicalized through “Black Lives Matter” in college, traveling abroad to France, and the Philippines. It was kind of in honor and in the footsteps of James Baldwin. Also, unpacking a lot of my family history in Jamaica and what made them go to the US in the early 1980s.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you think I should have asked you? If so, go ahead and answer that question.
You can buy my book “When they tell you to be good” at any independent bookstore in Columbus, Prologue Bookshop, Two Dollar radio, Book Loft, or online at Amazon. I run a podcast where I interview other artists called, “Creative Hour.” I have a newsletter where I share writing resources called, “Millennial writer life. “