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Synopsis: This is a spiritual rags to riches adventure. I have been blessed to live a ‘storybook life’ but not in any glamorous way. Writing this book has allowed me to examine my role as a person of color—which I refer to as ‘melanin-rich’—in a society which has proven itself to be hostile toward non-Caucasian people. Because this is part memoir, part historical treatise, and part survivor’s guide, it is my intention to stretch the parameters of a conventional novel. Book 1 of this Trilogy is told through the eyes of a confused child. A stranger in my own home, like so many neglected children, I found a surrogate family in the street—mainly at our neighborhood basketball courts. After learning how to ‘make a dollar out of fifteen cents,’ I was headed down a tried-and-true path for disaster until, ironically, a Beast and a Serpent came to my rescue.
In the 1980s, the economic policies of the Reagan Administration, policies widely known as “Reaganomics,” created such astronomical unemployment for young blacks that John E. Jacob, president of the National Urban League, labeled the decade a “Depression Generation.” Since that time, black and brown people have been murdered and incarcerated at such a disproportionate rate compared to Caucasians, that nowadays brothers beyond the age of thirty who are not on probation and have a job (not to mention all their teeth) are such rare figures in our community children see us as old men.
The only adult guidance many of our youth receive comes from gang members, drug addicts, or neighborhood bums. Since these are the adults the youth emulate, trying to put something over on people—we called it ‘getting over’—rather than succeed through meritorious achievement, replaces true ambition. The result: crime and other forms of deceit become a normal way of life. Despite being a dangerous game to play, many have been led to believe this is the road to the American Dream.
Takuan Amaru is an accomplished writer, teacher, and youth advocate. He is the author of over 100 articles ranging on diverse topics like popular culture, music, history, and ancient spirituality / philosophy. A number of distinct life experiences have thrusted Tak into a cycle of multicultural renaissance. Takuan borrows from his various, former occupations as a soldier, social worker, mental-health specialist, athlete, music artist, and high school teacher to connect with readers on an intimate level. He makes his home in Nagoya, Japan. For more information, including how to contact Takuan, please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or connect via Facebook.
Interview with Takuan Amaru
- Please explain the title of your book, “「外黒人」Gaikokujin – The Story.”
The word ‘Gaikokujin’ means ‘foreigner’ in Japanese. But normally this term is expressed as 「外国人」. If you examine the Chinese characters carefully, you can see the middle character changes from 「国」 to「黒」. The first character means “country,” and the second one means “black.” In a nutshell, the book is a fictional depiction of events in my life. So the title of my book literally means the story about the “Outside–Black–Man.” Inventing a new reading for the word “Gaikokujin” is just an attempt to create an expression which sums up my existence—a black man who is outside of something. Maybe that “something” is society. That’s the basic level. Or maybe it’s deeper, on a more cosmic level. My response is that’s for the reader to decide.
- Why did you write this book?
I received what’s called an “Akashic Records Reading” from an oracle. She instructed me to stop writing magazine blogs and freelancing, and instead write a book. She said I would understand the reason why once I began. In her own words, “All hell’s gonna break loose.” Well, I’m here to say she was right!
- What separates Gaikokujin – The Story from other books which feature a young, black protagonist?
Well, let me first mention what it has in common with many of those books: drugs, sex, violence, and illegal activity. The difference is the main character doesn’t get killed or arrested. In fact, the story ends in an uplifting fashion befitting the rags-to-riches spiritual adventure that it is. The book is meant to empower the reader.
- Can you give us a short synopsis of the trilogy? Of Book I?
As I stated, 外黒人 is a spiritual rags to riches adventure. Before I divided the book into three parts, the subtitle for the entire story was “Race, Redemption, and a Quest for Christ Consciousness.” I have been blessed to live a ‘storybook life’ but not in any glamorous way. Writing this book has allowed me to examine my role as a person of color—which I refer to as ‘melanin-rich’—in a society which has proven itself to be hostile toward non-Caucasian people. Because this is part memoir, part historical treatise, and part survivor’s guide, it is my intention to stretch the parameters of a conventional novel.
Book 1, subtitled “Hip Hop, Race, and Pursuing the American Dream” is told through the eyes of a confused child. A stranger in my own home, like so many neglected children, I found a surrogate family in the street—mainly at our neighborhood basketball courts. After learning how to ‘make a dollar out of fifteen cents,’ I was headed down a tried-and-true path for disaster until, ironically, a Beast and a Serpent came to my rescue.
- When did you decide to become a writer? Who are some of your inspirations?
I made a firm decision about a decade ago. At that time, I applied for all types of copywriting gigs to learn how to write. After a year or so, I started writing blogs and freelancing. Then I got that reading… As for inspirations, too many to name. Many of them are mentioned in Gaikokujin. I do want to give thanks to my 7th grade English teacher, Ms. Eldred, for pulling me aside and explaining I had the “gift of writing.” Also to all the scholars and authors, both past and present, who have brought forth our ancient knowledge.
- Tell us about any ongoing projects.
Obviously I’m planning to publish the rest of this trilogy. The target date for Book III is Autumn 2016. In addition, AfroAsiatic Books is launching a blog / video presentation called “The Japan Series.” We’re soliciting questions from the international community on what they want to know about everyday Japan. Please ask us about the state of affairs. We’re gonna break it down from a “melanin-rich” perspective.
- You mentioned the term “Melanin-Rich” earlier too. What does it mean?
In spite of what many folks would like to believe, all people are not the same. To better illustrate this, I’ve classified humans into three categories: melanin-rich, melanin-challenged, and melanin-deficient. The substance ‘melanin’ has become very popular in the conscious community recently. However, it’s been one of the most studied subjects in science for decades. Although the mainstream only links it to the darker hues of non-Caucasians, we now know it’s a much, much deeper topic (For more on this, please refer to AfroAsiatic Perspectives). Melanin has been linked to spiritual abundance. In short, the amount of melanin an individual is able to process is directly proportionate to that person’s level of spirituality. For example, think about the art of dancing. From the highest levels of dance to even if a person is just drunk in a club enjoying her / himself; no matter what it’s a spiritual endeavor. So how do we explain the people who do cannot dance? I’m not talking about dance really good like Michael Jackson…no, I’m referring to not possessing the innate ability to hear musical rhythms and translate the vibrations into physical movement. The folks who can’t snap their fingers or clap to the music. From a ‘melanin-rich’ person’s perspective, should this be classified as a “handicap?” I ask this because people from African or Latino descent cannot imagine going through life without dancing. After all, the very word “Universe” breaks down into parts: ‘Uni’ meaning ‘One,’ and ‘Verse’ meaning ‘Song.’ One song. So we cannot imagine being unable to dance to the ‘one song’…the only song being played. Yeah, dancing off-beat is a sure symptom of melanin-deficiency.
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