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George M. Johnson offers a look at life as a Black queer boy

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GEORGE M. JOHNSON by Vincent Marc.jpeg
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
Award-winning author, George Johnson says of their controversial book, "the ultimate goal is to teach young adults and teens that we are not the sum of our traumas."

In their memoir "All Boys Aren't Blue," the author shares experiencing everything from bullying to a loving grandmother to their earliest sexual relationships.

George Johnson knew "All Boys Aren't Blue," would stir debate but didn't expect it to reach the level of controversy it has.

The book is a series of essays detailing Johnson's experience growing up as a Black queer.

Portions of the book graphically describe both consensual and non-consensual sexual encounters Johnson had in their youth. The memoir has been banned at a number of libraries across the country,

"People are very pigeonholed on two particular scenes which probably take up less than three pages of the book," Johnson pointed out.

Johnson wanted the book to open the minds of young adults, "...specifically around their sexuality and gender and identity."

"I wanted our youth to have a road map of consensual sex. But also a road map of how to notice trauma, how to notice when they are being sexually violated," Johnson said.

The author also describes the memoir as a resource to help family, friends and guardians have conversations around LGBTQ topics.

Johnson related how young readers have reached out about the impact the book has had on them saying, "The most powerful thing I've seen, even throughout the book banning, is how many kids have gone to these school board meetings and say what this book meant to them."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
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