Conversation By: Kylie Cooper Photo Courtesy of: Sammiedor.Photography
KC: You recently published your first book, Something Out of Nothing: A Baldwin Miracle. How did that project come about and what was the experience like?
JB: This summer, many people experienced forced isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic and the heated rise in racial tension. On top of that, my father passed away in 2019. As a result, I experienced an overwhelming sense of anxiety and doom. To combat my depression, I turned to writing. Over the course of the summer months, I spent time reflecting on my life and telling my honest truths.
What do you hope people take away from the book after reading?
I wrote my book as a blueprint for other people, across all demographics. After reading my book, I hope people gain a better understanding of my perspective and use it as a means of inspiration for them to be open and honest about life experiences.
This past summer, you started a virtual book club – what ultimately led you to start that? Do you plan on continuing the book club in any form?
As many of us know, our country was plagued with heated racial tensions this past summer. To combat some of this racial tension and disinformation, I was led to launch Baldwin’s Reading Club via my Instagram account. Baldwin’s Reading Club features Black authors and their works. I aimed to enlighten my viewers on the diversity of thought in the Black community. Currently, I have taken a break from my virtual book club because I am enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin. However, I plan to relaunch Baldwin’s Reading Club this coming summer.
Any exciting upcoming plans or projects you’d like to share?
At the moment, I do not have any new books in the works. However, I am optimistic about future writing projects. In my future works, I hope to share my unique perspective on the queer Black experience. As mentioned earlier, I am currently pursuing an undergraduate education at the University of Texas at Austin and my time is limited. But, I plan to continue my writing endeavors this summer.
We heard you are currently working on opening an African American Museum, the first of its kind, in Corpus Christi. Tell me a little about that and what the status of it might be.
I was led to work on the formation of an African American Museum because it is saddening to me that we do not have one, despite the African American community’s many contributions to our city. At the moment, I do not have a definitive timeline, but I am optimistic about our vision.
What inspires you?
In my life, I am inspired by many factors. First, I am inspired by my unwavering faith in God. Second, I am inspired by the strong foundation of love that my parents have established for me. And lastly, I am inspired by the many Black intellectuals that have paved the way for me in academia and elsewhere.
When you’re home from school, what are your top three local spots you have to visit before leaving the Coastal Bend?
Definitely Cole Park, North Beach, and my home, of course.