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Publisher's Summary

An eloquent, restless, and enlightening memoir by one of the most thought-provoking journalists today about growing up Black and queer in America, reuniting with the past, and coming of age their own way.

One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Kṛṣṇa mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes listeners on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City. Exploring childhood, gender, race, and the trust that is built, broken, and repaired through generations, Ziyad investigates what it means to live beyond the limited narratives Black children are given and challenges the irreconcilable binaries that restrict them. 

Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, radical and reflective, Hari Ziyad’s vital memoir is for the outcast, the unheard, the unborn, and the dead. It offers us a new way to think about survival and the necessary disruption of social norms. It looks back in tenderness as well as justified rage, forces us to address where we are now, and, born out of hope, illuminates the possibilities for the future.

©2021 by Hari Ziyad. (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“Narrator Desean Terry gives an intimate and emotional performance of this beautiful memoir in essays. Author Hari Ziyad explores the complexities of gender, queerness, and Black childhood…. Terry's tone is soft and gentle, reflecting the person Ziyad has become. His voice sometimes catches in sadness or deepens in anger while capturing every rise and fall of Ziyad's flowing prose. Terry makes it easy to forget it's not Ziyad themself narrating this honest story.” AudioFile Magazine

Racebaitr editor-in-chief Ziyad merges astute sociopolitical analysis with soul-baring honesty in their striking debut memoir…with its candidness and sharp prose that doggedly links the personal to the political, Ziyad’s tale is engrossing and necessary.” Publishers Weekly 

“An unflinchingly honest assessment of the ways in which the lives and experiences of Black children are devalued. Recommended for readers interested in anti-racism.” Library Journal

“In Black Boy Out of Time, Ziyad reflects on the longterm impacts of assimilating into a more normative society shaped by prison-based ideologies and how it left them with little understanding of who they were. Ziyad notes that Black people are refused access to childhood due to the punitive social conditioning that protects gender and class categories, and asserts that Black childhood can only be reclaimed through prison abolition.” --Black Youth Project 

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  • 14Trip Tip
  • 12-06-2021

Fascinating memoir

Author truly takes readers in to their personal demons with a winding and thought provoking tale on spiritual life, finding your inner child and building for a more just future. Everyone but especially Black queer folk and people in ‘new age’ spiritual life must read

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  • Dawn-Marie
  • 19-04-2021

Healing inner child

This work is genius
The way the author speaks to god younger self thru letters is powerful and so relating I love the intersections of family, black queerness, a carcerial state and love
Must read!

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  • Dillon D
  • 17-04-2021

an important read

important book... they are telling their story, and it is a kind of story that more people need to hear. if you call yourself an ally to the Black community, queer community, or both, you need to add this book to your list of reads... it was a little scattered at times for my liking, but I was intrigued by the story at all times and loved educating myself further

enjoyed the narration, also love the fact that the author is friends with George M. Johnson (mentioned in book) who is an author of another very important memoir on the queer Black experience! thanks to the author for sharing with us.

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  • Ni
  • 07-04-2021

Thoughtful and thorough

it was so thoughtfully curated! brought up the conversation of what it means to be BLK and Queer and unpack. this was so BEAUTIFUL!

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  • Manifestsoul
  • 03-04-2021

Inner Thoughts Articulated Publicly

Engaging self reflection, wonderfully performed. Thought provoking on a number of levels and complex enough to be a book club reading.

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  • Erika Whitaker
  • 25-03-2021

This Should Be Required Reading

Hari’s story is beautifully written with so many examples of representation for QPOC that are lacking in society. Thankful to have been able to have access to this!

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  • Cathy Hancock
  • 19-06-2021

Not what I hoped it would be.

I am a white female so o was looking for a book or narrative that could explain the black experience and white privilege to me. The author uses examples of what makes growing up black so hard that also happened to poor white kids. Lead in the water, asbestos in the houses, lead paint, etc are just some of the examples used. Because those things also happen to white kids, I could not understand what it was about those things that formed his basis any differently than white kids in the same houses and cities. Nothing that happened to him was based solely on his blackness. His queerness (his words, not mine) did add a layer to his childhood that others don’t experience. I think more of his reality was brought about by the abuse he endured at the hands of his mother’s and grandmother’s religion. I would have liked a more thorough dive o to that and how those experiences shaped him. I was disappointed in the book.

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  • Yvonne K.
  • 01-06-2021

a must read

the narrator brought the story
alive and in context with today's lived experiences of blacks

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  • Clara
  • 13-05-2021

Clear and interesting

A powerful and clear exploration of the multifaceted nature of state & personal oppression. Thank you

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