Write On, Black Men: Why These Detroit Authors Get It Right    

Detroit native and Loyola High School Principal Wyatt Jones III, left, authored his new book, “The Urban Playbook: A Guide to Building Genuine and Sustainable Relationships with Black Boys.” Aaron Foley, center, a multi-hyphenate journalist, author, subject matter expert and the founding director of the Black Media Initiative at the Center for Community Media at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, captures his love of Detroit in his book, “Boys Come First.” Detroit resident Karl Robinson, right, wrote a book on his experiences as a former prison chaplain at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York. 

   

   

“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”  

The legendary novelist Toni Morrison revels in the idea that writing is a gift to the world that every author with a book inside themselves is brave enough to showcase can – and should.  

Writing, an art form in and of itself, is a timeless craft where the author and their beloved literary work cozy up together in an intimate embrace of narrative and plot, theme and voice. If they’re bold enough to have reached the end of their non-linear journey – they publish their work and allow ravenous readers to delve into their pages and meet the author’s soul.  

But we digress.  

In Detroit, authors, particularly of the Black male variety, are just that bold and are bringing the heat this summer with hot-off-the-press books. Their books detail everything from conversion behind prison walls and mentorship to three Black gay millennial men looking for love and success in Detroit – it’s all there and the Michigan Chronicle’s got the scoop. Cozy up and get these books and we’ll wait while you’re at it.  

“The Urban Playbook”  

   

Detroit native and Loyola High School Principal Wyatt Jones III is more than committed to educating the young people of Detroit and surrounding areas.   

As the founder of Dream Chasers Mentoring Group, a non-profit agency focused on assisting young men between the ages of 7 and 17, the educator took his background as inspiration in writing his new book, “The Urban Playbook: A Guide to Building Genuine and Sustainable Relationships with Black Boys.”  

Noted for his excellence in leadership and education, Jones, nominated for Best Black Principal by the Michigan Chronicle in 2017 and a finalist for the Governor’s Award for Service in 2015, said he had the “blessing” to be able to be impacted by so many young men who come in broken with challenges and watch them graduate years later.  

His book, a culmination of some real-life stories of tragedy and triumph and best practices for teachers, aspiring mentors and parents, also tackles implicit bias.  

“Our young men sometimes get a lack of empathy,” he said. “The most important [thing] is the book talks about understanding the love language of African American males — there is a different love language they have and if you can be open to understanding, you can help them.”   

Jones added that creating vulnerable spaces and trust were important in building these relationships. “When you combine that with affirmations in a young man rooted in the common understanding of the journey in them … you will see tremendous growth.”   

 The book is available at eastmaneducationalconsulting.com. 

“Boys Come First”

Aaron Foley, a multi-hyphenate journalist, author, subject matter expert and the founding director of the Black Media Initiative at the Center for Community Media at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, captures his love of Detroit in his book, “Boys Come First.” Foley tells a story that follows three Black gay millennial men as they look for love, friendship and professional success in the Motor City.    

“Suddenly jobless and single after a devastating layoff and a breakup with his cheating ex, advertising copywriter Dominick Gibson flees his life in Hell’s Kitchen to try and get back on track in his hometown of Detroit. He’s got one objective — exit the shallow dating pool ASAP and get married by thirty-five — and the deadline’s approaching fast,” the book describes.   

More stories ensue with Dom’s best friend and others, described as “A Sex and the City” meets “Waiting to Exhale” about millennial gay Black men, is something personal to Foley, and he hopes to bring alive another character in the book – Detroit itself.  

“I pursued journalism as my career but [I] always [had the] urge to do creative writing,” he said of wanting to write short stories set in Detroit. “When I became an adult, I always wanted to read more about Detroit but books about Detroit were non-fiction.”  

Released in late May, Foley said the book’s been well-received with good reviews nationally and at local bookstores.  

“I think there is definitely an appetite for stories of Detroit,” he said. “I chose Detroit as the background because I think, generally speaking, it is underrated as a city. Black culture, Black lifestyle, Black achievement—all of those things are not always in that conversation as it should be. Detroit is also just relegated to being Motown when it is so much more than that.”  

The book is available at beltpublishing.com, Amazon, other online outlets and at local bookstores.  

“Being Church Behind Prison Walls”  

Detroit resident Karl Robinson is a former prison chaplain at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York.  

Robinson, a teacher and volunteer at the New Destiny Christian Fellowship Church in Detroit, recently wrote a book “Being Church Behind Prison Walls: Survival Theology, Prisoners, and Policymakers.” The book is described as a “survivalist practical ministry manifesto” for incarcerated Black men, their families and religious social policymakers.  

“The book probes the question of what love looks like in a disgusting prison setting,” and also demonstrates how religious and social policymakers can better rehabilitation initiatives to improve the lives of inmates.  

Robinson also worked at Hamtramck Jail in 1998 and taught at the University of Phoenix’s Detroit campus from 2005 to 2011.  

He wanted to write his book on his experiences of helping inmates as they journey through prison experiences, especially culturally for Black people.  

“People have ideas about what church is and what it is not – this book is a twist on that type of ministry – it’s a tough ministry,” he said, adding that the formerly incarcerated are coming back into the community. “Our community and walking and working in our communities – that is very much a part of the Black community fabric.”  

Robinson added that as a former prison chaplain he noticed a “disconnect” between church prison volunteers and inmates, particularly Black inmates.  

“You had some Christian, some Sunni Muslim, some Shiite Muslims,” he said. “Some religious groups – they come into the prison and they weren’t fully equipped. The … book goes heavy into training church volunteers to go into the prison and send out a warning… don’t think you’re coming to bring Jesus or the church in the prison system — most of them also grew up in our community and were members of churches…. They’re familiar with the songs, hymns and nuances of Black religion.”   

The book’s takeaway is to find the perfect symmetry in building relationships behind prison walls.  

“I wanted to find a model that both people outside the church can lean on and inmates inside the prison can lean on and create symmetry and balance and increase communication,” he said.  

The book is available at dorrancebookstore.com or visit the New Destiny Christian Center.  

 

 

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