Jamal Josef Hopes To Inspire Young Talent With 'Black Boys Dance Too'
NOEL KING, HOST:
Black boys dance, too. Of course they do. Jamal Josef is a teacher to some of them. His new children's book is called "Black Boys Dance Too: Darnell Enters A Talent Show"
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JAMAL JOSEF: So is it - give me something right now. Give me something. Give me something in your body right now. You ready?
KING: Jamal is a dancer himself and has choreographed for Beyonce.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SORRY")
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Tell him, boy, bye. Tell him, boy, bye. Tell him, boy, bye.
JOSEF: When I dance, I feel free.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Josef wanted kids to feel that freedom.
JOSEF: When music comes on and then our body is moving, it is able to release the muscles and the energy that is locked up inside of ourselves. There's a freedom that you're just letting out. Like, you know, you're letting out the day. You're letting out the anger, the pain, the - whatever you're going through. And you're just able to connect and vibe with the energy that's around.
INSKEEP: So his book follows a boy named Darnell as he enters his school's talent show.
JOSEF: He loves dancing and isn't aware of the ideologies of the world or the stereotypes. Then the bullying starts because people are saying, you know, my mom says that that's not for boys, or my dad said this. And so he meets some friends along the way to support and help him do some really great things.
KING: Josef was a friend like that to Joseph Boyd (ph), who's now a senior in college. Joseph took Josef's dance classes at the University of South Carolina.
JOSEPH BOYD: That's why I'm thank for, like, people like Jamal because we get that representation and that OK to just do what we love.
KING: Boyd wishes there had been a book like this when he started dancing at age 9.
BOYD: I was just overwhelmed with joy that this book was coming out. And it was just saying, like, it's OK to pursue dance and to enjoy it if you're a Black male. I think, I really just want to drive home how much this representation means for me.
INSKEEP: So who's the target audience?
JOSEF: I hope to inspire whoever needs the seed that I am planting.
INSKEEP: Jamal Josef, whose book is titled "Black Boys Dance Too." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.