When I think back to my days as a young boy, I remember having this brewing feeling of courage, protection and altruism naturally and instinctively developing in me; The arousal of a warrior coursing through my body. As most boys do, I looked to the limited iconic figures given to us by popular media to identify with. Animated characters like He Man, Wolverine, Lion-o, and G.I Joe served as the representation of what a heroic man is. At best, our real-life personification of honorable manhood rested on the steroid injected shoulders of Hulk Hogan, Coco Beware, and the Ultimate Warrior.
However, none of these foresaid characters had any basis in reality. None of them served a cause that addressed the many socio-political and economic barriers that were prevalent in my community. Not one of these figures was equipped with the strength and wisdom necessary that a good man possesses to help my family, and my surrounding community, rise above our dysfunction. All they had to offer was ballooned muscles, a dim witted personality, and a single-track mind focused on persecuting the "bad guy."
When I created Zumbi the Capoeira Freedom Fighter, I wanted to offer boys a real-to-life character who's struggles, grapples with oppression, and overcoming of fear led him to purposeful heroism. I wanted boys to have a figure that was endowed with principle and values of honor, empathy, self-determination, resilience and spirituality. Someone who's character was built with the girth of love for his people and pursuit for his inalienable right to freedom. The proof of men who stood valiant as did Zumbi exist and our children should know about them.
Zumbi, with his chiseled chest, massive arms and wild dreadlocks, not only has stature and presence, but stands by meaning and purpose, which in my eyes is the image of a new hero for our children.
If you would like to purchase a copy of Zumbi the Capoeira Freedom Fighter, please click the link to my website below.
Blessed Love! JJB was in attendance at the graffiti and spokenword event at the Jocob Center, hosted by artist in residence, Gil Soto. Shout out to Gil and his lovely family. During the event we shared storytelling alongside other great storytellers, shared our books and enjoyed the diverse array of poets and painters doing their thing. One artist in particular stood out and left me, as well as others, in awe as she stylishly graced the microphone with a poem entitled, Morning Orange Juice and a Jay. When Monet' name was called to share her works, she glided onstage with her Angela Davis afro, oversized overalls and vans--almost in tribute to 90's fashionista T'Boz--thick coke bottle bifocals that only magnified her beautiful eyes that much more, and a truly genuine smile that symbolized her true zest for life.
After she recited her piece, which was the best out of the poets in my opinion, I approached her in hopes of creating dialogue around publishing her poetry--which still is a goal of mine BTW. However, after mildly obsessing over her unique artist abstractions on her social media sites, I had another plan for our collaboration all together. I was mesmerized by her collages. that seemed to take me through the looking glass of a Pro-Black/Sister's Liberation kaleidoscope.
Prior to meeting Monet, I had been looking for the right illustrator for a very important children's book, written with a focus on young African-American girls, entitled, Miss Shanikwa Mack. Miss Shanikwa Mack is about a cute little Black girl from Compton, who's on a mission to get fifty-cents so she can buy an ice cream from the Paletero Man, for her and her sweet giant pit bull with a pink spiked collar. Miss Mack is written with the same musical cadence as the old handclap song, Miss Mary Mack.
As a kid, I remember all of the little girls around my neighborhood playing either Chinese jump rope, or rhythmically clapping hands together and singing Miss Mary Mack. My goal was to use the same familiar musicality but to put it plain and simple, make it Black. Not only that, I wanted it have a certain "urbanesque" quality that anyone from Black, Brown, Yellow or White, who reside in the hood can identify with . I wanted Miss Mack to have a certain Ebony realness, a particular urban Black girl edge, a rather authentic joy only experienced by a Black woman, who was once a girl, who was able to sift through the decay of the hood, and focus on the deliciousness of an ice cream on a hot summer day with her pup.
Monet was the perfect Sister crafted by the Almighty for the job. I am truly thankful and honored to work with such an amazing artist. Miss Shanikwa Mack is scheduled for release this Fall. Check out our site for updates.
Learn more about Monet at:
Greetings! Zumbi the Capoeira Freedom Fighter will finally be available in just 10 days. We apologies for the delay, but we made a surprise special addition to Zumbi that will make it a timeless collectors classic for years to come. Ready for the surprise? Grand Mestre Touro of Rio de Janeiro, the living Capoeira legend, has personally written the introduction for Zumbi and shared his invaluable jewels of wisdom and history.
For those of you who love Capoeira, the art-form, music, history and culture, and for parents who know the importance of investing in quality works of literature for your children, this book is a must.
Thank you to those who pre-ordered your signed copy! Your book will arrive via mail or personal delivery asap. And for those of you who have yet to purchase your copy make sure you do before our first shipment sales out!
PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY