“Black Boy Out of Time: A Memoir” by Hari Ziyad— Black and Queer in America

Ziyad, Hari. “Black Boy Out of Time: A Memoir”, Little A, 2021.

Black and Queer in America

Amos Lassen

In “Black Boy Out of Time: A Memoir”, journalist Hari Ziyad writes “about growing up Black and queer in America, reuniting with the past, and coming of age their own way.” He was one ofnineteen children in a blended family and was raised by a Hindu Hare Krṣṇa mother and a Muslim father.

Ziyad takes us on his journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and then finding their true self in New York City. They explore childhood, gender, race, and trust.  Ziyad looks at what it means to live beyond “the limited narratives Black children are given and challenges the irreconcilable binaries that restrict them.” This is the story of “the outcast, the unheard, the unborn, and the dead” and it gives us a new perspective on survival and the necessary disruption of the social norms. It is both tender and filled with rage and we, in turn, are forced look at where we are now and see the possibilities for the future.

Ziyad gives us a look at the long term impacts of assimilating into a more normative society that has been shaped by prison-based ideologies and how this left them with almost no understanding of who they were. They show that Black people are refused access to childhood due because of their punitive social conditioning that protects concepts of gender and class and claims that Black childhood can only be taken back if prisons are abolished.  

While Ziyad writes as a Black writer for readers in mind, what they say is relevant to all of us. We ultimately find Ziyad committed to a loving relationship that problematic— their fiancé is living with HIV and dealing with the trauma from past sexual violence. This is an ongoing project yet Ziyad successfully shows us the  essence of being Black and queer. Ziyad is brutally honest in bringing together the personal and the political as he looks at the ways in which the lives and

We are forced to question and challenge everything we thought we knew and to see what we pretended was not there along with a way to deal with it.

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